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, December 11th, 2021

TIME: 9:30AM – 11:00AM


Get out your favorite pencil, pen, marker, crayon, or digital drawing tablet and join the Chicago-Area Illustrators Network for a virtual HoliDRAW!   What is a HoliDRAW you ask? A mix between our annual Holiday Social and a series of timed drawing prompts that everyone can participate in.  When the timer goes off everyone can hold up their work to on camera and share in the fun.  So, grab yourself a snack & cozy beverage and let’s gather, mix, mingle, and DRAW.

Address:Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 899 5758 8295
Passcode: 277437


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: Thursday, January 13, 2022



Small traditional presses provide opportunities as well as certain limitations. Carmela Martino will discuss small PAL publishers and the varied quality of their editorial involvement, cover design, and marketing. Carmela will also share insights from authors she interviewed for the 2018 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market article, “Working with Small Presses”. Presentation will allow time for Q & A.

Carmela Martino is an author and writing teacher with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. She is the author of two award-winning novels: Rosa, Sola (Candlewick Press) and Playing by Heart (Vinspire Publishing). Carmela’s articles, short stories, and poems have been published in newspapers, magazines, and anthologies. For more, see

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



TOPIC:Join us to play Liebrary: Zoom Friendly edition.

DATE:Wednesday November 10th

TIME:7-8:30pm CST


Zoom Meeting ID: 946 1553 9668

We had so much fun last time, let’s play again! 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.


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: 716 6546 0452
Passcode: SCBWI


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.


Ann Santori is the Early Literacy Specialist Librarian for Lincolnwood Public Library, where she runs and/or oversees all programming for children aged birth-5 and their families and purchases for the picture book, board book, and early reader collections.  She is also a co-founder of the RAILS Networking Group, EDIT-YS (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Team in Youth Services) and an adjunct professor at Dominican University’s SOIS Graduate School.   @ann_santori

Eti Berland is a Youth and Teen Services Librarian at Lincolnwood Public Library where she runs the library’s Junior Justice League, Caldecott Club, and Books & Bites Book Club. She has worked as a middle school and high school teacher, teachers’ center facilitator, and curriculum developer. She moderates social media for the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. Eti has served on the 2015 Newbery Committee and the 2018 Odyssey Award Selection Committee. She blogs sporadically at @90SecondNewbery


Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 716 6546 0452

Passcode: SCBWI





Far North Suburban Network

Nicole Hewitt
Kim Oclon 


DATE: Wednesday, December 1

TIME: 7-9 PM


Join us on Zoom for our annual holiday gathering of merriment. Bring a snack and something to drink (if you would like) while we’ll provide the fun!


DATE: Wednesday, January 5

TIME: 7-9 PM

TOPIC: Critique Night

If you would like to share pages and get feedback from the group, please prepare no more than five double-spaced pages.

As of now, we are going to meet in person.

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

DATE: Wednesday, February 2, 2022

TIME: 7-9 PM

TOPIC: Pitch Practice

You’ve probably heard of a pitch (and not throwing a ball in baseball) but have you ever tried to write one for your own work?

On this night, we’ll learn some pitching pointers as we try to to tell everyone all about our stories in just a couple sentences.

If necessary, we will meet via Zoom.


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

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: “Magical Middle Grade” 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.

WATCH THE RECORDING from our Recordings BY REQUEST page. Unlimited viewings for a month with a small convenience fee.

Magical Middle Grade Resource Sheet

The content of all SCBWI-IL presentations (including presentation recordings and handouts) is copyrighted and may not be reprinted, blogged, tweeted, written, orally transmitted, and/or reproduced without written permission of the copyright holder. This falls into the category of protecting intellectual property.  It would be a breach of copyright law to give away a detailed report of our presenters’ material. Your professionalism is greatly appreciated!


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

Gina Buckles

DATE: Tuesday December 7th

TIME: 6:00-8:00 pm

TOPIC: Craft Book Discussion: Story Genius

Join us as we discuss chapter 8 of Lisa Cron’s Story Genius- “The When: An Offer Your Protagonist Can’t Refuse (But Probably Wants To)”


DATE: Tuesday January 4th

TIME: 6:00-8:00 pm

TOPIC: Craft Book Discussion: Story Genius

Please join us in discussing Lisa Cron’s Story Genius Chapter 9: “The Opening: Of Your Novel and of the Story Genius Blueprinting System”

Please join us in discussing Lisa Cron’s Story Genius Chapter 10: “The Real ‘Aha’ Moment: Where Will Your Story End?”

DATE: Tuesday January 4th

TIME: 6:00-8:00 pm

TOPIC: Craft Book Discussion: Story Genius

Please join us in discussing Lisa Cron’s Story Genius Chapter 10: “The Real ‘Aha’ Moment: Where Will Your Story End?”

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, December 6

TIME: 6-8 pm


The Scribes plan to gather for a meal and holiday celebration at Bella Milano’s in Springfield, Illinois. If this is not feasible, we will meet on zoom for fun and games. We plan to have a gift exchange with a $15 limit.

Bella Milano’s
 Address: 4525 Wabash Ave.
Springfield, IL 62711

DATE: Monday, January 3, 2022

TIME: 6-8 pm

TOPIC: Writing Prompt and Writing Goals

The Scribes’ first meeting this year will start with a writing prompt. Next, we’ll discuss our writing goals and what we plan to do to achieve them. We will also critique members’ pages.

DATE: Monday, February 7, 2022

TIME: 6-8 pm

TOPIC: Revisions

During this meeting, the Scribes will discuss revisions. We will also critique members’ pages.


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.