Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI-IL 2021 Fall Network Events

NETWORKS offer easy, handy access to programs, writing groups, networking opportunities and other interested (and interesting!) writers and illustrators. 

Interested in starting a NETWORKS group?
Contact NETWORKS Coordinator, Deb Aronson, Assistant Regional Advisor

FALL 2021:
(Updated 09/2021)

All SCBWI-IL Networks will be hosted online unless noted.  We realize that this situation is changing and ongoing and appreciate your working with us in partnership to preserve the health and community of our Region.


All programs listed will be on Zoom. Please contact the Network Representative if a group’s Zoom meeting or registration link is not listed in the post.

Networks are free and open to all. You may attend any Network at any time, not just the one in your area.
Special Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: If you have a disability and need any special assistance to enjoy the event’s online programming, please email the Network Representative or Co-Regional Advisor to ask for assistance for your particular needs.
All Network participants, regardless of membership status, agree to abide by our SCBWI Anti-harrassment Policy.



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 Google Group for updates….to be added please email Cedric Gliane.


Chicago-Area Illustrators’ Network


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

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


DATE: Saturday Sept 11th

TIME: 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM

TOPIC: Let’s See!

Illustrators welcome back from summer break!  We hope you enjoyed some sunshine and outdoor fun.  We also hope you have stayed busy creating. Perhaps you have filled a sketchbook with lots of sketches?  Maybe you have been inspired and working hard on new pieces for your portfolio?  Did you spend time this summer working away on a book project?  Have you struck it rich selling fun art items online?  Whatever it is you have been working on, we would love to see it!  Think of this an art and illustration show and tell.  No pressure, and critique/feedback will only be given if you request it. 

Meeting will be held virtually via zoom.  If you have traditional work to share please take some photos of them ahead of time that you can share during the meeting.  If you work digitally, you will be able to share your screen during the meeting. 

Let’s See what everyone has been up to!

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 977 5603 0581
Passcode: 749027


Downstate Illustrators’ Network

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

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

 Stay Tuned for upcoming programming!

Representative: Donna Beasley

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. 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. 

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



Chicago Network


Mary Jo Gugliemo.

 Stay Tuned for upcoming programming!

Hyde Park Network

Kate Hannigan  

Natasha Tarpley

Stay Tuned for upcoming programming!


Chicago’s Southland Network


Jim Danielson 708-596-4479
Linda Dryfhout 

DATE: September 9

TIME: 7-8:30

TOPIC: Novels in Verse for YA Reluctant Readers

Demitria will speak to our group about the challenges and rewards of writing novels in verse for YA reluctant readers. OUR BROKEN EARTH is her second Hi-Lo book and her first novel in verse.
Demitria Lunetta is the author of many YA books including: THE FADE, BAD BLOOD, and the sci-fi duology, IN THE AFTER and IN THE END. BITTER & SWEET is her first Hi-Lo book and also available from Rosen Publishing. Find her at, on twitter @DemitriaLunetta and on Facebook facebook/DemitriaLunettaAuthor.

If you’d like the zoom link to the meeting, email Jim at or

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

Shop Talks: 
Second Thursday of every month.


Cook County (North Suburban Network)


Carolyn Crimi 

Anny Rusk

Ilana Ostrar


DATE: Wednesday, September 8

TIME: 7-8:30 PM

TOPIC: Virtual Planning Meeting

Join us at this annual meeting where folks help us plan the next year’s programming.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 910 7904 8806
Passcode: 838390


DATE: Wednesday, October 13

TIME: 7-8:30 PM

TOPIC: Using Libraries to Find Your Readers

Eti Berland and Ann Santori, from Lincolnwood Library, and Anny Rusk, formerly from Winnetka Library (and still running their Author Event series) will talk about various ways librarians and authors can work together to find their readers. Examples include doing author events, Storytimes, writing books that fill a hole in library collections, understanding which books fly off the shelves and why.

To reach out and get the zoom link, contact Ilana Ostrar


Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 939 5739 4863
Passcode: 743045




Far North Suburban Network

Nicole Hewitt
Kim Oclon 


DATE: Wednesday, November 2

TIME: 7-9 PM

TOPIC: Group Critique

Join us, in person, at the Barnes and Noble in Vernon Hills as we gather together for the first time since March 2020. Although not required, vaccinations and masks are highly encourage as we get together for a very informal reunion.

If you would like to share your work and get feedback from the group, please prepare no more than five double spaced pages. An email will be sent out in advance of the meeting about how to submit pages.

Barnes and Noble
Address: 901 N Milwaukee Ave Suite #500
Vernon Hills, IL 60061


Northwest Suburban Network


Veronica Rundell
Liz Searle

Stay Tuned for upcoming programming!

Dundee Area Network


Jennifer Wagh

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 


Oak Park and Near West Suburban Network


Sarah Hammond 
Sallie Wolf 


DATE: Thursday, September 9 

TIME: 7-9 pm

EVENT: Welcome Back & Virtual Tour of the SCBWI website led by  Deborah Topolski 

FINDING BURIED TREASURE: The and websites are a maze of opportunities and information, especially for SCBWI members. Illinois RA Deborah Topolski will lead a guided tour of the website, highlighting how to optimize your own member page and how to access vital information about events, publishers, agents, and fellow members. Join us via Zoom for this opportunity to find buried treasure on the SCBWI websites.

Contact Sallie Wolf for Zoom link or click here:

DATE: Thursday, October 14

TIME: 7-9 pm

EVENT: Critique Night

-Manuscripts, art, or submission materials (queries, proposals, cover letters) will be thoughtfully and respectfully considered. Time will be apportioned evenly among participants. Even if you do not have work to share, you can learn a lot by hearing others’ work and weighing in with your thoughts. Zoom link here:

Join Zoom Meeting

DATE: Thursday, November 11

TIME: 7-9 pm

EVENT: Writing Middle Grade Fantasy with Loralei Savaryn

Lorelei Savaryn will present on writing middle grade fantasy, including how she plans & writes her novels, advice on building magic systems, tying magic into plot, finding inspiration, as well as tips and tricks for creating engaging, heartfelt stories.
Lorelei ( is an author of creepy, magical stories for children. She holds a BA in creative writing and is a former elementary teacher and instructional coach. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time amidst the beautiful chaos of life with her husband, four children, and dog outside of Chicago. Her books are THE CIRCUS OF STOLEN DREAMS (out now), THE EDGE OF IN BETWEEN (April 19, 2022), and THE NIGHT TRAIN (2023). You can follow her on Twitter @LoreleiSavaryn, or on Instagram at loreleisavarynauthor.
Join Zoom meeting:

DATE: Thursday, December 9

TIME: 7-9 pm

EVENT: Holiday Jolly

It is our tradition to celebrate all holidays, our high and low moments, and our network in general at the December meeting. Currently all our meetings are via Zoom. If it is safe, we will resume in person meetings. Stay tuned for details and be prepared to share your creative journey during these challenging times.

Join Zoom Meeting:

Bolingbrook/Naperville Network

Cathy Velasco
Mary and Rich Chamberlin 

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


DATE:  Saturday, September 25

TIME: 10 a.m. to Noon

EVENT: A World Full of Love

 YA Romance Author Ronni Davis will speak via Zoom from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 25th about world-building and making those worlds joyful and diverse, especially in the context of contemporary stories.

She will also speak about creating well-rounded and empathetic characters, and some things she commonly sees as a sensitivity/authenticity reader. She will help us become more aware of where these things might end up in our own work.

Ronni is the author of WHEN THE STARS LEAD TO YOU, which was released by Little Brown Books for Young Readers in November 2019, and her next book, THIS NIGHT IS OURS, will be released summer 2023 from Poppy/Little Brown Books for Young Readers.

Ronni grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where she tried her best to fit in—and failed miserably. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a BA in Psychology, she worked in insurance, taught yoga, and became a cat mom.

Now she lives in Chicago with her husband Adam and her son Aidan. By day she copy edits everything from TV commercials to billboards, and by night she writes contemporary teen novels about brown girls falling in love. When she’s not writing, you can catch her playing the Sims or cozy farming games, eating too much candy, or planning her next trip to Disney World.


Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 917 7752 9816
Passcode: 429891


Geneva Network


Janet Riehecky 847-695-9781
Cheryl App 


Network meetings generally held first Wednesday & fourth Tuesday of each month, 7 p.m.


Rockford Network


Karin Blaski



 Stay Tuned for upcoming programming!

Galena/Freeport Area Network


Jamie Petras 815-541-3795

Critique Session/Shop Talks:

Fourth Saturday of each month

Please contact Jamie to verify dates.

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 (Champaign-Urbana) Network

Elaine Bearden  


TIME: 7-8:30 PM

TOPIC: An Evening with Cozbi Cabrera: Picture Book Creation

Join Caldecott (Me & Mama) and Coretta Scott King (Exquisite: the Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, Me & Mama) Honoree Cozbi Cabrera for a dive into children’s picture book creation via Zoom.  Cozbi will share from her journey and offer inspiration for your own stories.  Please register for this event through the link provided.  Virtual “doors” open on Zoom at 6:30 pm for attendees who wish to mingle with other like-minded creatives.  Locally based participants will be entered into a virtual drawing for one of Cozbi’s books to be picked up at a later time. 

This program is presented in partnership with The Urbana Free Library.

Registration link click here




Springfield Area Network

The Springfield Scribes

Debra Daugherty 


DATE: Monday, October 4

TIME: 6-8 pm

TOPIC: Monthly Meeting – Analyzing published works

Members are asked to choose a currently published fiction or nonfiction PB. Show the book and give a brief summary on it. (Like a book report.) If you wrote this story, what might you have done differently? Does the PB follow the rules? Child solves the problem, the rule of three, kid oriented in language. etc.


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.