Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI-IL 2020 Spring Networks

NETWORKS offer easy, handy access to programs, writing groups, networking opportunities and other interested (and interesting!) writers and illustrators. Check below for your particular NETWORK’s time, location and Shop Talk.


Networks are free and open to all. You may attend any Network at any time, not just the one in your area.  All Network participants agree to abide by our SCBWI Anti-harrassment Policy.


Interested in starting a NETWORKS group in your area?
Contact NETWORKS Coordinator, Deb Aronson, Assistant Reginal Advisor

Fall 2020:
(Updated 08/2020)

With regret, all in-person Network programs and events are suspended through January 2021

All programs listed will be zoom. We ask you contact the relevant network representative to see about receiving the zoom meeting link.

We realize that this situation is fast-changing and ongoing and appreciate your working with us in partnership to preserve the health and community of our Region. 


Illustrators’ Networks

Chicago-area Illustrators’ Network


Rich Green – 815-341-0925
Pav Kovacic 773-490-5902

The Chicago-Area’s Illustrators Network meets monthly from September through May.  Meetings are free and open to the public and include a topic discussion, presentation or guest speaker.  We also leave time at the end of each meeting for peer review of works in progress, book dummies and portfolios.

Chicago-Area Illustrators Network

Saturday September 12th


Art Contest and Portfolios

Wow after shut downs, stay at home orders, it is time to get back to the business of book making!

For those joining in the fun of the all new Illinois Interactive Full Zoom Ahead 2020 Conference, we will be talking about putting finishing touches on your portfolios, especially for those who are submitting for written portfolio critiques. So be sure to have you digital (or digitized) version of your portfolio ready to screen share with the group for any peer feedback and review. We will also open the share for those who are taking part in the Art Contest and would like feedback on their works in progress prior to submitting as well. Should be a fun day of seeing each other and helping us all put our best work forward this year!

Saturday, October 10


Book Dummies and Illinois Interactive Prep

Getting to know the faculty of the all new Illinois Interactive Full Zoom Ahead 2020 Conference. We love for our Illustrator Network friends to pitch in and pull up some information and fun facts about the faculty. Volunteers are appreciated! We will also talk about putting finishing touches on book dummies for those who are getting an option one on one dummy review during the conference.

Saturday, December 12


Details to come!




SCBWI-IL Members:

You can also join in the fun at our SCBWI Illinois Illustrators Network Group on Facebook – request to join here:

SCBWI member illustrators please make sure you are on the illustrator listserv for updates….to be added please email Cedric Gliane.


Downstate Illustrators’ Network

Louann Brown 217-839-3264
Jerry Barrett 217-621-1369

Saturday September 12

10 am -11:30

Why I Chose an Art Agent

Rahele Jomepour Bell tells about her illustration journey in Iran and the United States. She will explain why she chose an art agent to represent her work and how that decision has furthered her career.

QUARTERLY MEETINGS:   This Network maintains a Facebook page (Downstate Illinois SCBWI Illustrators) for critiques and information sharing between meetings. If you’d like to join us, send us a request via Facebook or email one of the network reps. At our meetings we typically discuss markets, critique work and share our journey. Everyone is welcome.

Diversity Network

Representative: Donna Beasley

Contact with any additional accessibility needs.

About our Diversity Network…

Every month, FREE, non-members welcome. If anyone needs additional ADA support such as sign language interpreter or other resources, please email  Donna Beasley in advance.

Diversity Network Meetings create a space where writers and illustrators who’ve traditionally been left at the margins in children’s publishing can get together.

Wednesday,  August 5

7 -9 pm

Should I Self-Publish My Children’s Book?

Four independent children’s authors who self-published their work discuss the benefits and challenges of sending your book into the world. They will also discuss the primary questions to ask yourself to help you decide if self-publishing is right for you. Join authors Pamela Rice, Donna Beasley, Christine Mapondera-Talley and more.

Saturday, September 5

9 am -1 pm

How To Market and Promote Yourself as an Author
This 1/2 day workshop shares a variety of ways authors can market themselves and promote their books. Workshops will include; Selling on Amazon, Best practices for building an author website; Social Media Marketing and virtual book tours.

At these meetings we’ll build community, share stories of hurdles and successes, work to dismantle barriers, improve diversity and inclusion in children’s literature and SCBWI-IL, work on our craft and further our writing and/or illustrating careers. And there will often be snacks. Feel free to bring a tasty treat to share.


Our focus on diversity springs from the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement:

We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.

Because of the breadth of this focus, we will be particularly conscious of the intersectionality of oppressions and identities. Allies are welcome. (An ally is a person who supports, empowers, or stands up for another person or a group of people.)

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

– Aboriginal activists group, Queensland, 1970s


Writers’ Networks

Chicago Network


Jane Hertenstein (773) 303-4089

Hyde Park Network

Kate Hannigan  


 Chicago’s Southland Network


Jim Danielson 708-596-4479
Linda Dryfhout 

For more information and current shop talk topics, visit the Chicago Southland blog at

Shop Talks: 
Second Thursday of every month.


Northern Suburbs

Cook County (North Suburban Network)


Carolyn Crimi 
Anny Rusk 

Date: July 8, 2020

Topic: Time Management for Writers

Location: Virtual Link:  will be provided to those who register here.

Time 7-8:30 pm Central Time Zone

Program: Join the North Suburban Network of Illinois SCBWI on July 8 to learn about how best to manage your time and energy. 

You want to write, but where do you find the time? Even if you find the time, what about the energy? It can be overwhelming, to the point that most people give up or dilly-dally for decades, never quite reaching their goals. NYT Bestselling middle-grade author Liesl Shurtliff will speak about time management for writers. She’s written seven novels over the past decade while raising four kids and juggling many hats and schedules. She’ll touch on subjects from prioritization and organization of time, creative mindset, and proven methods to beat procrastination and get the most bang for your buck, er, hour. Come join the conversation! Q&A will follow the presentation.

Liesl Shurtliff is the New York Times bestselling author of the (Fairly) True Tales series and the Time Castaways series. Her books have been named to several state award lists and have won many awards including a Children’s Book Award from the International Literacy Association. A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Liesl has called Chicago home for fifteen years. She and her husband have four children who have inspired many characters in Liesl’s books, both hero and villain.

Our host will be Anny Rusk, the SCBWI-IL North Suburban Chicago Co-Rep. She is affiliated with the Center for Teaching Through Children’s Books at National Louis University, and has moderated several Graphic Novel panels at Chicago’s Comic Con, C2E2. She is also the co-host of the YouTube/Booktube channel Choose2Include. In addition to being a helicopter mom to her four-legged son, Odin, Anny has several works in progress including an MG Fantasy novel and a picture book on OCD.

Far Northern Suburbs

Far North Suburban Network

Nicole Hewitt
Kim Oclon 


Join us on the 1st Wednesday of every month:


Time: 7-9 pm


Far Northwest Suburbs

Northwest Suburban Network


Veronica Rundell
Kathleen Reitmann 

Wednesday, September 2

7 -9 pm

Jeff Garvin Presents “The Hero’s Journey”


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

7-9  pm


If you would like to receive feedback on your work, please email no more than five double-spaced pages to your network representative when you receive the meeting reminder.

When giving feedback, please remember to be courteous and constructive.


Wednesday, November 4

7 -9 pm

Critique Session

If you would like to receive feedback on your work, please email no more than five double-spaced pages to your network representative when you receive the meeting reminder.

When giving feedback, please remember to be courteous and constructive.

Contact reps: Veronica Rundell  or Kathleen Reitmann for more information.


Dundee Area Network


Jennifer Wagh 
Jennifer Kaap  

Shop Talk/Critique Session
Second Wednesday of the month 7-9 p.m., unless otherwise noted.
If you are a first time attendee please RSVP Jennifer Wagh 


Western Suburbs

Oak Park and Near West Suburban Network


Sarah Hammond 
Karen Walker Ward 
Sallie Wolf 

Shop Talk: Second Thursday of the month, 7 – 9 pm Our meetings are free and open to all.


Thursday, May 14

Topic: Finding Our Jam: Fiction or Nonfiction? Series or Standalone? Graphic Novels? Exploring the Genres That Get Us Most Excited About Writing for Young Readers ~ With Kate Hannigan

Location: Virtually! This event is open for free to all Illinois SCBWI members! Register Here with coupon 2020ILNetworks

Time: 7-9 pm

Whether it’s contemporary issues that motivate us or a love for historical research, a drive to make kids laugh or a desire to help them navigate painful challenges — we all bring a variety of passions to our projects. Join Golden Kite winning author Kate Hannigan in talking about tapping what excites us most about the power of children’s literature and how we can bring those passions to our craft.
Chicago children’s author Kate Hannigan writes fiction and nonfiction. Her standalone historical mystery THE DETECTIVE’S ASSISTANT (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) won the 2016 Golden Kite Award for middle-grade. Her new historical fantasy series THE LEAGUE OF SECRET HEROES (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin) blends superheroes and real-life figures from WWII. Weaving in chapters presented in graphic novel format, Book 1, CAPE, published in August 2019, and Book 2, MASK, hits shelves August 2020. Kate’s nonfiction graphic novel THE GREAT CHICAGO FIRE: RISING FROM THE ASHES (First Second) publishes in June 2020. Her nonfiction picture book biography A LADY HAS THE FLOOR: BELVA LOCKWOOD SPEAKS OUT FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS (Boyds Mills) explores the life of a remarkable but forgotten figure from history. Kate has six more picture book biographies forthcoming. Visit her online at
New in 2020: Mask: Book 2 in The League of Secret Heroes (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin)
The Great Chicago Fire graphic novel (First Second)

Bolingbrook/Naperville Network

Cathy Velasco
Mary and Rich Chamberlin 

Bolingbrook/Naperville Network meets three times a year from 10 a.m. – noon,  Saturday mornings.

Bolingbrook/Naperville is co-hosting the Kate Hannigan event May 14 (see above!)

Geneva Network


Janet Riehecky 847-695-9781
Cheryl App 

Shop Talks:
First Wednesday & fourth Tuesday of each month, 7 p.m.

Northern Illinois

Rockford Network


Karin Blaski

Jennifer Loescher


Contact: Karin Blaski,

Freeport/Rockford Area Network


Leone Anderson 815-947-2780
Debbie Deutsch 815-235-8899

Critique Session/Shop Talks:

Fourth Saturday of each month

Please contact Lee or Debbie to verify dates/locations.

DeKalb Area Network


Sarah Tobias

Shop Talk & Critique Session:

The third Wednesday of the month, January through November, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

No meetings in December


Central Illinois

Central Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) Network

Elaine Bearden  

Bloomington/Normal Network

Near-Normal Writer’s Group


Dawn Malone (

Looking for new leadership. Please contact Dawn if you’re interested in hosting a program.

Springfield Area Network

The Springfield Scribes

Debra Daugherty 


Southern Illinois

Edwardsville Network

Juli Caveny
Bonnie Swanson 

Monthly Critique Meeting:
We meet at 6:30 on the 2nd Wednesday of the month. Contact reps if you have any questions!


Fairview Heights Network

Katie Otey 

Monthly Critique Meeting:
Usually 3rd Wednesday of the month. Contact reps for meeting place and time.