Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI-IL 2022 Spring 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

Spring 2022 Network Events:
(Updated 03/2022)


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.



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, April 9th, 2022

TIME: 9:30AM – 11:00AM

TOPIC:Anything you’ve wanted to know about Graphic Novels and so much more!

Join Illustration Network Co-Rep Pav Kovacic as he shares what is sure to be a mini master class on ALL things Graphic Novels:  Intro, History, Definitions, Vocabulary, Structure, How to Read them, How to Write them, How to Illustrate them, How to Pitch them, and countless other information nuggets and resources.

—Join C-A Illustrator’s Network Zoom Meeting on Saturday, April 9, 9: 30 AM CST

—A recording will be made available on our Recordings BY REQUEST page beginning on May 1.

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, March 8

TIME: 6 pm

TOPIC: Tuesday Fiesta

Have some good news to share? Big or Small? Want to meet new members?
Zoom into the Tuesday Fiesta where we will celebrate successes and
connect with your fellow members? Margaritas and Salsa optional!

Go here for the zoom link.

DATE: Tuesday, April 12

TIME: 6 pm

TOPIC:Is Amazon’s Kindle Vella For You?

Amazon’s Kindle Vella is a new way to tell a story, one episode at a time. Come learn how to publish your Kindle Vella story through Kindle Direct Publishing and meet authors who’ve done it.

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 (Chicago Southside)

Kate Hannigan  

Natasha Tarpley

DATE: Thursday, April 14

TIME: 6:30 pm

TOPIC:GET REEL! Understanding the Basics of Using Instagram Reels and Videos for Promoting Books on Social Media

Featuring Jordan Snowden, marketer with Astra Publishing House

Jordan Snowden is an award-winning journalist turned digital marketer. Currently, she works full-time for Astra Publishing House as a marketing and publicity assistant, in addition to freelancing for The Seattle Times and Apartment Therapy, among others. She also runs @jord_reads_books, a book-focused Instagram account where she connects with other bookworms. In her free time, Jordan can be found with a book in her hand or DIYing something with her husband.

Zoom Link Here


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.


North Suburban Network


Carolyn Crimi 

Anny Rusk

Ilana Ostrar



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 Shealy 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.

—A recording will be made available on our Recordings BY REQUEST page beginning on May 1.


DATE: Wednesday, May 11

TIME: 7-9 pm

EVENT: Why Hire a Freelance Editor/Writing Coach?

Description of Event: Do you ever wonder if your submissions could use a competitive advantage? Come join Esther Hershenhorn, Sarah Aronson, and Esther Reisberg as they share how they can help you whip your manuscript into shape. Each of them will share insights into how they help their clients and then the floor will be open to your questions.

The descriptive appositive TeachingAuthor describes Esther Hershenhorn perfectly. She authors award-winning picture books, middle grade fiction and nonfiction while teaching Writing for Children at Chicago’s Newberry Library and the University of Chicago’s Writer’s Studio.  Helping others tell their stories, especially to children, is truly her story.  She proudly considers the writers and students she’s been honored to teach and coach the past 25 years her “storied treasures.” A veritable SCBWI Poster Child who advocates for children’s book creators, Esther served 17 years as the Illinois Chapter’s Regional Advisor, 10 years on SCBWI’s Board of Advisors and currently as SCBWI-Illinois’ Regional Advisor Emerita. Though a Philly Girl at heart and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Esther has proudly worn Cubbie Blue since moving to Chicago many life chapters ago.  The Hope and Determination required of all die-hard Cubs fans serves her well as she seeds and feeds writers of all ages. Visit to learn more about Esther’s coaching. You can also read Esther’s blog posts at

Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then, she has earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She’s published a bunch of books from picture books to novels. When Sarah is not writing or reading (or practicing yoga or riding her bike), she loves working with other writers one on one or in her classes with amazing Highlights Foundation and Writers on the Net. Warning: When she gets really excited, she makes funny faces and talks with her hands. Don’t be shocked if she talks about the power of play. Like tips? Her weekly newsletter offers thoughts on the process and writing prompts that help you find your story. She lives in Chicago, Illinois. Find out more at

Esther Reisberg fell in love with reading at age three, and quickly became the go-to editor for her classmates in elementary school (and beyond). She began making books her business in 2012, when she had her first editorial internship at an independent publishing company. After a stint in magazines, she interned at Phoenix International Publications, Inc., and spent three years in editorial and production at Kidsbooks Publishing before branching out as a freelance editor. She currently works on projects for Scholastic, National Geographic Kids, Penguin Young Readers, Albert Whitman, ABRAMS, and other publishers, as well as for independent authors. A self-described professional bookworm, Esther recently joined the team at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers as a production editor. Her inner three-year-old is absolutely delighted that (slightly older) Esther gets to work in an industry that delivers the magic of books to kids of all ages. Visit for more information.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 948 2427 9328


Far North Suburban Network

Nicole Hewitt
Kim Oclon 


DATE: Wednesday, March 2

TIME: 7-9 PM

TOPIC: In-person Critique Night

If you would like to receive feedback on your work, please bring 8-10 copies of a picture book manuscript or novel excerpt. Please limit it to no more than  five double spaced pages.

As of now, we are hoping we can meet in person. Please contact Kim if you are unsure if we are meeting in person or over Zoom.


Barnes and Noble Mellody Farms
901 N Milwaukee Ave Suite #500
Vernon Hills, IL 60061

DATE: Wednesday, April 6

TIME: 7-9 PM


Sometimes the hardest part of writing is finding the time and the space. Let’s spend the evening writing together! Bring your laptop, a notebook, whatever works for you. Before we end the evening, we’ll share a sentence or two to celebrate all the hard work we did.

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

DATE: Wednesday, May 4, 2022

TIME: 7-9 PM

TOPIC: End of Year Reading

Join us for our fourth annual End of Year Reading! It was another tough year and somehow, we managed to write some words. Let’s celebrate that! No critiquing, no feedback, just applause for you and your work. If you’d like to share, please prepare 2-3 pages of a novel or no more than five pages of a picture book.

We are planning to meet over Zoom for this event to accommodate anyone who wants to attend.

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, April  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

Join Zoom Meeting:

Topic: Oak Park Critique Night
Time: Apr 14, 2022 07:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 895 4091 3690

DATE: Thursday, May 12

TIME: 7-8:30 pm

EVENT:Unlocking Memories and Uncovering Stories










Author, journalist and teacher Beth Finke will lead a discussion on ways writing memoir and first-person narratives  could apply  –and benefit — the writing you do for children.
Through observation exercises and writing prompts, Beth’s workshop will answer common questions about  getting started, the difference between autobiography and memoir, exposing family secrets, using pen names and  pseudonyms,   finding and working with publishers.
A fun and easy-going workshop to discover ways friends, family, celebrations, milestones, moments and place can be catalysts for unlocking memories and uncovering stories.

Beth Finke likes to write, read and edit stories. Her children’s book, “Hani and Beth: Safe & Sound,” was published in print and in Braille in 2007. Written from her Seeing Eye dog’s point of view, it won the ASPCA’s Henry Bergh  Award for Children’s Literature  that year.

Beth has written a couple of books for adults, too: “Long Time, No See” (a memoir about adapting to sight loss at age 25) and “Writing Out Loud” (about  the memoir-writing classes she leads for older adults in Chicago). 

Beth returned to her role as children’s book  writer for a short bit this year, penning two textbooks  for an “Understanding Disabilities” project Sleeping Bear Press will publish for elementary schools this fall.

Find out more  at and on twitter @BethFinke

—LIVE EVENT FREE to both members and non-members. It will be recorded.

—Click to join LIVE Zoom Meeting on Thursday, May 12 at 7PM


—A recording will be made available on our Recordings BY REQUEST page beginning on May 1.

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: Monday, April 4

TIME: 6-8 pm

EVENT:  Lisa Cron’s Story GeniusCh 12: Going Back to Move Forward: How to Harvest the Past to Set Up the Plot

DATE: Monday, May 2

TIME: 6-8 pm

EVENT: Lisa Cron’s Story Genius, Ch 13: Story Logic: Making Sure Each “What” has a “Why”

and then we’ll decide if we want to meet through the summer…
Ch 14: The Secret to Layering: Subplots, Storylines, and Secondary Characters
Ch 15: Writing Forward: Stories Grow in Spirals

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  

Stay tuned for upcoming programming!

Springfield Area Network

The Springfield Scribes

Debra Daugherty 


DATE: Monday, March 7

TIME: 5:30 P.M. social time, meeting starts at 6:00 P.M., ends at 7:45 P.M.

TOPIC: Face-to-Face Meet Up

The Springfield Scribes are meeting in person at the Chatham Area Public Library to exchange pages for critique, and to discuss and update our author bio/media kit. We also plan on playing holiday games since our December get-together was cancelled. This will be our first face-to-face meeting in 2 years.

Name: Chatham Area Public Library
Address:600 East Spruce
Chatham, IL 62629
(217) 483-2713

DATE: Monday, April 4th

TIME:5:30 social time, meeting 6:00 P.M. – 7: 45 P. M.

TOPIC: Writing Prompt and Writing Goals

The Scribes are meeting in person at the Chatham Area Public Library to exchange pages for critiques.

Name: Chatham Area Public Library
Address:600 East Spruce
Chatham, IL 62629
(217) 483-2713

DATE: Monday, May 2, 2022

TIME: 6-8 pm

TOPIC: Tricks and Tips for Making School Visits Shine

Carolyn Crimi visits about thirty schools a year and has learned a trick or two along the way about how to make school visits go more smoothly. She’ll discuss the ups and downs, ins and outs, and dos and don’ts of author talks and how she approaches them with hearty doses of humor and hand sanitizer. Bring your questions!
Carolyn Crimi enjoys snacking, pugs, Halloween, and writing,
although not necessarily in that order. Over the years she has published 19 books for children, including Weird Little Robots, Secondhand Dogs, Don’t Need Friends, Henry and the Buccaneer BunniesWhere’s My Mummy?, There Might Be Lobsters, and I Am The Boss of This Chair. When she’s not snacking, Carolyn enjoys giving Author Talks to elementary schools all over the country. For more information, visit her website,

Zoom link here

Meeting ID: 969 0196 9174
Passcode: 872035



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.