Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI-IL 2020 Winter Networks

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

WINTER 2020:
(Updated 12/2020)

All SCBWI-IL Networks will be hosted online until further notice.  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 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.

DATE: Saturday, December 12

TIME: 9:30 A.M. -11

TOPIC: Holiday Social – The Zoom Edition

Hello Illustrators!

Join us for our annual Holiday Social – The Zoom Edition

Since we cannot get together in person this year to enjoy our traditional holiday brunch – we will gather online for a fun holiday social.

Zoom Meeting Link:

Meeting ID: 824 4894 1794

Passcode: 708502

We hope to see you there!

DATE: Saturday February 13th

TIME: 9:30 AM-11

TOPIC: Illustrators Roundtable

Join us on Zoom for a virtual roundtable conversation where we will be discussing anything and everything related to children’s book illustration. 2020 has been a unique year for the industry and 2021 will present its own unique challenges and opportunities. Everyone is invited to ask and answer questions, share recent experiences and information, as well as presenting digital or digitized artwork for feedback.

Contact Rich Green for Zoom link 

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

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

DATE:Tuesday December 8

TIME: 6  pm

TOPIC: Diversity Group Holiday Gathering 

Join us as the diversity group gets together to discuss the highlights and challenges of the year.
 Each person brings something they are proud of to share with the group.



Chicago Network


Jane Hertenstein (773) 303-4089

Mary Jo Gugliemo

DATE: December 5, 2020

TIME: 10 a.m. – 12 noon

TOPIC: Season’s Greetings: Holiday Flash

The holidays are fertile ground for any writer. At that time of year there is always “family” material—major stress, breakdowns, burnt main courses, feuds, etc

Chicago network rep Jane Hertenstein leads us in a special Flash Fiction and Memoir workshop and contest. We’ll get a virtual flash course in writing flash, the haiku of prose, with examples of how holiday stories helped revive many authors’ careers.

RSVP to Jane Hertenstein for ZOOM code and instructions for Holiday Flash Contest.

WAIT! There’s MORE!!

Holiday Flash Contest

No matter your religious or non-religious background, we all have a holiday memory or story to tell. In 500 words or less, fiction or memoir, submit an entry to Deadline: Nov. 30, 2020. Only entries of those signed up for the event will be considered. First, second, and third place winners will be announced on the Listserve.


Hyde Park Network

Kate Hannigan  

Natasha Tarpley

Stay Tuned for upcoming programming!


Chicago’s Southland Network


Jim Danielson 708-596-4479
Linda Dryfhout 

Stay Tuned for upcoming programming! 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, January 13

TIME: 7-8:30 PM

TOPIC: Game Night!

Join us for Game Night: Liebrary, Write and Socialize to Win a Prize.

In Liebrary, players are given a children’s book title and the plot summary and then asked to create the most believable first line of the book. Players earn points by writing the first line well enough to fool others into voting for it and/or by writing the correct line. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game, wins.

 To RSVP and get the Zoom link email Ilana Ostrar: by January 12th 


DATE: Wednesday, February 10

TIME: 7-8:30 PM

TOPIC:“Your Brain Loves to Grow: How to Change Your Thoughts to Strengthen Your Emotional Resilience with Carol Coven Grannick

We react to hard times with sadness, anger, fear and more. But our attitudes toward having those feelings cause unnecessary stress, anxiety, and depression, and can block our creative work. Learn a research-based skill that, when practiced, creates new thought pathways in your brain, resulting in a more accepting, positive attitude toward what you experience, opens your brain to creative problem solving, and strengthens emotional resilience.”

Carol Coven Grannick is a clinical social worker who has taught this technique for several years.  A long-time Illinois member, Carol is the debut author of REENI’S TURN (Regal House Publishing/Fitzroy Books, September 13, 2020). Order now at Fitzroy BooksIndiebound, or Amazon



Far North Suburban Network

Nicole Hewitt
Kim Oclon 


DATE: Wednesday, December 2

TIME: 7-9 PM

TOPIC: Holiday Celebration

Bring a snack, a beverage, and wear something festive
as we gather virtually to celebrate the holidays.
We’ll play some games that will definitely involve writing and books!

DATE: Wednesday, January 6

TIME: 7-9 PM

TOPIC: Critique

We will spend the meeting sharing and critiquing our work.
Please follow the directions in the email for the meeting reminder in order to submit pages.


DATE: Wednesday, February 3

TIME: 7-9 PM

TOPIC: What Makes Good Writing?

Find a favorite novel or picture book and share a favorite passage with the group.
What makes it good? How does it influence your own work?Let’s spend this meeting talking about GOOD writing.

Northwest Suburban Network


Veronica Rundell
Liz Searle

Stay Tuned for upcoming programming!

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 


Oak Park and Near West Suburban Network


Sarah Hammond 
Karen Walker Ward 
Sallie Wolf 


DATE: Thursday, December 10

TIME: 7-9 pm

EVENT: Zoom-Casual Holiday Jolly (Party)

A casual get-together/party over Zoom to celebrate the Holidays–all the holidays of this season. Show up with a beverage of your choice, a snack of your choice. If you can position your camera so your background includes holiday decor, so much the better. We will be celebrating our recently published members as well as each and every milestone or victory of all our network members. Email Sarah Hammond for zoom link.

DATE: Thursday, January 14

TIME: 7-9 pm

EVENT: January Reset: Creative Resolutions

Join us via Zoom to create, share, and recommit to your creative resolutions. January is a great time to hit that Reset Button and get back on track. What do you intend to work on in the coming months?

Reach out to Sallie Wolf  for the meeting link

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 974 1438 0909

DATE: Thursday, February 11 

TIME: 7-9 pm

EVENTCritique group

Manuscripts will be read aloud and commented on by the group, via Zoom. March is the time to submit to the SCBWI Work in Progress Grants. This critique night is the perfect time to get helpful feedback before you submit.

Contact Karen Walker Ward for Zoom link.

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, January 23 

TIME: 10 a.m. to Noon

EVENT: Craft Books & Goals

Got a favorite craft book that helped with dialogue or setting?

Writers and Illustrators are invited to bring a craft book to discuss how it helped. Bring an example or two that made your work shine!

Feel free to bring your goals for 2021. What do you plan to accomplish? Reach for the sky! Reserve by January 21st, emailing Cathy Velasco at, and we will send you a link for our free Zoom meeting

All Illinois creatives welcome! Contact Cathy or Rich and Mary for meeting link.

Geneva Network


Janet Riehecky 847-695-9781
Cheryl App 

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


Rockford Network


Karin Blaski
Jennifer Loescher

Winter 2020 Zoom Writing Craft Book Series, continued

DATE: Dec 1

TIME: 6-8 pm

TOPIC: The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface, by Donald Maass: Emotions, Meaning, and ARC

As SCBWI moves onto Zoom for the near future, and writers struggle to focus during these unprecedented times, the Rockford Network has decided to work through a writing craft book together. All participants will need to obtain a copy of the book from their library or bookstore by the first meeting. Each month we will read a chapter and work through the writing exercises. The monthly Zoom meetings can be a place of accountability (if you want it). They will always be a place of community and support, with zero judgment if you weren’t able to complete the monthly goal.

Read Chapter 5. Try Writing Exercises 8, 9, 10 & 11.

Did you shift from tension to energy or from energy to tension?

Share how this helped deepen your character.

How To Participate:

The Rockford Network voted on this writing craft book and will be given first dibs on this series. We are a small network and have room for others interested in joining us.

If you’d like to participate, e-mail Karin ( We will limit participation to 15 people, including Karin and Jen, to provide an intimate discussion on Zoom. Karin will e-mail a Zoom link each month to those participants.

If there is interest, we can continue this series in Spring 2021 with the second half of this book.

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.

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  

Stay Tuned for upcoming programming!

Bloomington/Normal Network

Near-Normal Writer’s Group


Dawn Malone 

Looking for new leadership. Please contact Dawn if you’re interested in becoming Network Representative.

Springfield Area Network

The Springfield Scribes

Debra Daugherty 

DATE: Monday, December 7

TIME: 6-8 P.M.

EVENT: Virtual Holiday Party with Gift Exchange

The Scribes are having a virtual holiday party with a gift exchange and games.
Members will mail their gifts ahead of time to their designated person, and we will open them during our Zoom meeting.
Suzy Leopold is in charge of games.

DATE: Monday, January 4 

TIME: 6-8 pm

EVENT: Smart Goals 

Suzy Leopold is doing a presentation on Smart Goals.
The perfect way to start the New Year!
Also, manuscript pages can be emailed to the members for a critique.

DATE: Monday, February 3

TIME: 6-8 pm

TOPIC: Query Letters

This meeting will focus on query letters.

Prior to the meeting, each member will receive a link to watch about queries, and during our zoom meeting, we will discuss what we learned. Members will be encouraged to share one of their query letters for a critique. They can also send pages to be critiqued.


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.