Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI-IL 2020 Fall 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

Fall 2020:
(Updated 08/2020)

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.


Illustrators’ Networks

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 September 12th

TIME: 9:30 AM-11

TOPIC: 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 SCBWI-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!

Contact Rich Green for Zoom link 

DATE: Saturday, October 10

TIME: 9:30 AM-11

TOPIC: Book Dummies and 2020 SCBWI-Illinois Interactive Prep

Getting to know the faculty of the all new SCBWI-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.

DATE: Saturday, December 12

TIME: 9:30 A.M. -11

TOPIC: Details to come!



Downstate Illustrators’ Network

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

DATE: Saturday September 12

TIME: 11:15-12:30 PM CST

TOPIC: 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.

REGISTER HERE for this event by September 10th.

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: Wednesday,  August 5

TIME: 7 -9 pm

TOPIC: 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.

DATE: Saturday, October 10

TIME: Noon-2 pm

TOPIC: 12 Ways To Market Your Children’s Book
This workshop shares a variety of ways authors can market themselves and promote their books. Workshop will include; Selling on Amazon, Best practices for building an author website; Social Media Marketing and virtual book tours.

To register and receive the zoom link, contact Donna Beasley at


Writers’ Networks

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 

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: Wednesday, October 14.  FREE Registration here until 10/13

Time: 7-8:30 pm (Central time)

Topic: Nonfiction Panel, “Curious Minds Want to Know”

with Joel Christian Gill, cartoonist, educator, and graphic novel author/illustrator and Suzanne Slade, picture book (+ one mg) author
Get answers to your burning questions about craft, non-fiction research, writing, editing, graphic novel basics (writing and illustrating), negotiating contracts, how to select a non-fiction topic that will sell, finding experts to vet your non-fiction story, working with and without an agent, time management, juggling several books-in-the-works, school visits, working with an illustrator, how to get your book read on the Space Station, and anything else you want to ask!

Far Northern Suburbs

Far North Suburban Network

Nicole Hewitt
Kim Oclon 


DATE: Wednesday, October 7

TIME: 7-9 PM

TOPIC: Jeff Garvin Presents the Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey Workshop is an hour-long program that shows participants how to harness Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey framework to inform their writing and boost their understanding of films and literature. We’ll be analyzing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as a keyhole into the motifs and archetypes of the Hero’s Journey.

Jeff Garvin’s debut novel, Symptoms of Being Human, is an ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection, a Lambda Literary Award Finalist, and garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly. His sophomore book, The Lightness of Hands, received a starred review from School Library Journal and praise from multiple New York Times bestselling authors. Jeff also produces and co-hosts The Hero’s Journey podcast, examining books and films through the lens of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth paradigm.


DATE: Wednesday, November 4

TIME: 7-9 PM

TOPIC: Critique

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.

Join us on the 1st Wednesday of every month:


Far Northwest Suburbs

Northwest Suburban Network


Veronica Rundell
Liz Searle

DATE:Saturday, October 3

TIME: Noon

TOPIC: Becca Syme: “Seven Productivity Myths and Why to Stop Believing Them”

We are excited to virtually host Becca Syme, writing coach to hundreds, founder of the Better -Faster Academy and noted author of Writing Better, Faster books and a new craft book on beating writer’s block. Learn more at her website:

To register for the zoom event, please contact Liz Searle

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 


Date: Thursday, September 10

Time: 7-9 pm

EventWelcome Back Jolly: Join Online Network

(nb: a ‘jolly’ is a Brit word for a party!). Join us online so that we can reconnect after the pandemic hiatus. We would love to hear what our members have been up to, how they are coping, and what opportunities through SCBWI, Highlights, and other sources they have taken advantage of. We will discuss future programming– what they’d like to have and we’ll discuss how we propose to do critiques by way of Zoom meetings.


Date: Thursday, October 8:  REGISTER HERE FOR FREE BY 10/07

Time: 7-9 pm

Event: Folk and Fairy Tale presentation: 

We have rescheduled the postponed presentation into a webinar format with Dr. Janice Del Negro, storyteller, author, educator and professor at Dominican University. Janice has a special expertise in this field and will talk to us about the history of folk and fairy tales, ways that we can use them, of misappropriation, of tools for finding them, and also give more information about the Butler Center’s Ellin Greene Folk and Fairytale Collection.


Date: Thursday, November 12 Join Online Network

Time: 7-9 pm

EventCritique group

Manuscripts, art, or submission materials (queries, proposals, cover letters) will be thoughtfully and respectfully considered. Time will be apportioned evenly among participants. If we have more than 10 people with work to share, we will consider the first 10 to arrive and reserve a spot for any others for the next critique. Even if you do not have work to share, you can learn a lot by hearing others’ work and weighing in with your thoughts.


Date: Thursday, December 10 Join Online Network

Time: 7-9 pm

Event: Virtual Holiday Party

An online seasonal celebration with recognition to our recently published members and other accomplishments of our membership. A toast to the New Year!


Bolingbrook/Naperville Network

Cathy Velasco
Mary and Rich Chamberlin 

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

Event: Find and polish the emotional gem at the heart of your picture book with Alice McGinty

Date:  Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020
10 a.m. to Noon

Using examples from her fiction and nonfiction books, Alice B. McGinty will show how she discovered and polished the emotional gems at the heart of her books.  Then she will help participants to do the same, workshopping their ideas together to find the emotional gem at the core and learn how to make them shine.

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.

Northern Illinois

Rockford Network


Karin Blaski
Jennifer Loescher

Fall 2020 Zoom Writing Craft Book Series

Sept 1, Oct 6, Nov 10*, Dec 1

6-8 pm

The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface, by Donald Maass

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.

*The Rockford Network usually meets the first Tuesday of the month, but the November meeting was moved back one week due to the election.

Sept 1: Introductions

Share your writing history and tell us about your work in progress.

Read the first page of your manuscript. (Only if you want to. All reading is optional.)

Oct 6: Inner Versus Outer

Read Chapters 1 & 2. Try Writing Exercises 1 & 2.

Share which exercise resonated with you. Read an excerpt from a revised scene.

Nov 10: The Emotional World

Read Chapter 3. Try Writing Exercises 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7.

Share the higher emotion, moral stakes, and four key events of your story.

Dec 1: Emotions, Meaning, and ARC

Read Chapter 4. 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

Central Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) Network

Elaine Bearden  

DATE: Wednesday, September 23 Register here for this event by September 22nd.

TIME: 7-8:30 pm

EVENT: An Evening with the Editors

Ever wonder how children’s books get chosen to be reviewed? Curious about what the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s books is? Then please join us at 7 pm on September 23 as Deborah Stevenson and Kate Quealy-Gainer, editors from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, share a behind-the-scenes view on how their review journal works and what books they are excited about.

The Bulletin, established in 1945, is one of the nation’s top review journals for books for young readers. And it is located right here in Champaign-Urbana!

Grab your favorite drink and join us online for an evening of conversation about books for children and young adults. Register here for An Evening with the Editors


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 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Time: 7-9 P.M.

Event: Author Lori Degman Presents: Edit Your Picture Book Manuscript

Lori is doing a presentation on editing picture books, with a focus on word choice and readability.

We’d like to invite all the SCBWI-Illinois Networks to join us that night to hear Lori’s talk. LINK TO REGISTER POSTED SEPTEMBER 16th

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.