Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI-IL 2021 Winter 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

WINTER 2021:
(Updated 12/2021)


Please find below the COVID protocols from SCBWI HQ. Please note: Networks are in no way obligated to hold in-person events but if they do:

Policy for Minimizing Covid Risk during SCBWI Region Events

To minimize the risk of Covid-19 at all SCBWI in-person events with more than 25 attendees, event organizers are required to implement one of the following attendance policies:

  • Require attendees to submit proof of vaccination, or proof of a negative PCR test taken no earlier than three days prior to the event, as a condition of attendance. Proof of vaccination or negative PCR test must be provided no later than three days prior to the event, or,
  • Limit in-person attendance to those who provide proof of vaccination prior to the event, while also providing a virtual component of the event that allows those who are not vaccinated to participate.

At any SCBWI in-person event, regardless of the number of attendees, organizers must offer each attendee a free disposable mask, provide hand sanitizing stations throughout the event area, and post this policy in its entirety in areas visible to attendees.

 Comments regarding this policy should be directed to SCBWI headquarters by emailing Include your name and contact information in order to receive a response.


And, as always:

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.

A recording of online programs may be offered for a small convenience fee on our Recordings BY REQUEST page. Recordings BY REQUEST are available in February, May, August and November. Your convenience fee gives you unlimited viewing all month long.  Your fees support NETWORKS and other free Regional opportunities like scholarships and mentorships. Winter 2022 Recordings BY REQUEST



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 Allan Woodrow


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.)

DATE: Tuesday, Feb. 8

TIME: 6 pm

TOPIC: BOOK LAUNCH ISAIAH AND THE WORRY PACK by local creators Ruth Goring and Pamela Rice (illus)

It’s bedtime again, but Isaiah can’t sleep. It seems he’s got too many things on his mind: things he’s worried about. So Mom helps Isaiah imagine what it would be like if each of his worries were a block that he could stash in his backpack.

As Isaiah imagines hiking through the woods carrying his worry pack, he discovers the joy and relief of trusting Jesus with everything—especially those worries.

Register in advance for this meeting:


“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 27, 2022



ZOOM LINK: Join Chicago’s Southland Network Zoom Meeting HERE on 1/27 at 7PM.

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



DATE: Wednesday, January 12

TIME: 7-8:30 PM

TOPIC: Writing Goals & Tarot

For January, we’ll be looking for a little help with our writing goals from…The Tarot! Carolyn Crimi, who is by no means a professional tarot card reader, will be pulling cards for 2022! Bring your questions and goals about manuscripts, agents, and editors and see what the cards have to say. Carolyn uses a “gentle” tarot deck so there are no spooky Death, Devil, or Hanged Man cards. (Unless you’d like them, in which case she can dig up her old deck.) Come have a laugh and maybe get some insight into your career concerns!

DATE: Wednesday, March 9

TIME: 7-9 pm

EVENT: Find Out What Indie Book Marketers Can Do For You!

In this Q&A program, Carolyn Crimi will lead a discussion with Barbara Fisch and Sarah Sealy about the role of freelance publicists, how Blue Slip Media works with authors and publishers, the types of services they offer, and helpful tips for building an author’s brand and fan-base.
Barbara Fisch and Sarah Shealy were the associate directors of publicity for Harcourt Children’s Books for many years before starting their own children’s book publicity and marketing firm, Blue Slip Media, in 2009. They currently work on projects for Random House, Scholastic, Red Comet Press, and other publishers, as well as for individual authors such as Kathi Appelt, Carolyn Crimi, Laura Gehl, Jeanne Walker Harvey, Sandra Nickel, and others. They work exclusively with children’s books and have over twenty years of experience marketing and publicizing picture books and novels to reviewers, teachers, librarians, parents, kids, and booksellers. Well-versed in all aspects of the ever-changing marketplace, they enjoy the challenge of helping books and authors find their best audiences.



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.

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, 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:

DATE: Thursday, January 13

TIME: 7-9 pm

EVENT: Commonplace Books

In January, we’ll be pondering the value of commonplace books. Throughout history, many authors and thinkers have used these books as a way of cataloguing information and inspirational nuggets for future use. We would like to revive this tradition as a way of thinking about the writing process, inspiring ourselves and keeping motivated that could be helpful in the year ahead. Join us as we share inspirational quotes, write them down and decorate them to upload to an album on our network Facebook group as a ‘communal’ commonplace book for 2022.

 Links to learn more about Commonplace Books

DATE: Thursday, February 10

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. Bear in mind that applications are due for SCBWI Work in Progress grants in March and this is a good opportunity to get feedback on your work.

Bolingbrook/Naperville Network

Cathy Velasco
Mary and Rich Chamberlin 

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



Stay tuned!

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: Monday January 3rd

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”

DATE: Monday, February 7 

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.