Winter 2023-2024 NETWORKS
December, January & February
Anyone can attend any Network,
anywhere at anytime!

Live, in-person and online meetings are free and open to all! Networks focus on craft and industry programming and are our first point of outreach with the wider creative community.

Scroll down to see the complete list
of networks and offerings!

Network Representatives are valued SCBWI-IL volunteers.
Contact them with your questions about attending any of our programs.

Interested in starting a NETWORKS group?

All Network times are CDT
Illustration 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! To be added please email Allan Woodrow
Chicago-Area Illustrators’ Network

Our Annual Holiday Draw Together!

We’ll celebrate the Holidays and spread joy across the land. Come prepared with sketchbook and art supplies for fun and silly rounds of drawing and art play. You’re welcome to bring a friend, bring some treats and a tasty drink, and/or wear festive attire.

When: Saturday, December 16, 2023

Time: 10:30 AM

via Zoom
Finding Inspiration

We’ll open our box of curiosities, our guilty pleasures, and play with drawing and thinking (writing) about the stories we can tell our audience. Then we’ll share ideas for how we each get inspired to make art. To prepare, read Chapters 4 and 5 of Show Your Work by Austin Kleon.

Also Storystorm begins in January. While this is traditionally a writers' idea gathering month-long event, it can also be used for developing illustration ideas and diving into our writers’ mindset. 

Get on the mailing list so you can register and receive the daily blog posts in January. (It’s free and no one will know if you gathered 30 ideas or not).

When: Saturday, January 13, 2024

Time: 10:30 AM

via Zoom
Carrie Carlson on Nature Journaling

Since 2001, Carrie Carlson has been a full-time high school educator in the south suburbs of Chicago where she has split her years between the science and art departments. She also teaches a variety of adult art courses at the Morton Arboretum including linoleum block printing, drawing birds, and nature journaling.

Field sketching is a cornerstone of scientific illustration. She can’t imagine visiting a local zoo, much less traveling abroad, without a sketchbook. She believes that travel and field sketching generate a deeper appreciation for humanity and the planet; the act of drawing forces us to slow down, to notice, reflect, cherish, and consider.

Join us as Carrie talks about her work and gives us ideas for doing our own nature journaling.

You can learn more about Carrie by visiting her website here.

When: Saturday, February 17, 2024

Time: 10:30 AM

via Zoom
Email Network Co-Reps Sarah Tobias and Denise Holmes for more information:
Midstate Illustrators' Network
Join us on Facebook:
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.
Email Network Co-Reps Louann Brown and Jerry Barrett for more information.
Equity & Inclusion Network
Diversity Network
Diversity Writers Critique Night
Before submitting to the publishing world, agents and editors encourage joining a critique group!

Join us to review 5 pages of YA or MG, or a PB. We look forward to hearing your creations!

When: Wednesday, Janaruy 10, 2024

Time: 7:00 PM

via Zoom

To get a Zoom Link, reach out to Donna Beasley at [email protected]
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 improve 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 need additional ADA support such as sign language interpreter or other resources, please email Network Representative Donna Beasley in advance.
Writing Networks
Chicago Southside Network
New Year's Resolutions

Come help the South Side Network plan for the year. Meet fellow members and share your kid lit resolutions!

Members get the chance to meet their new representative, Addie Grosse, make connections, share goals, and pitch programming ideas for the year.

When: TBD in 2024

Time: TBD

Where: IN PERSON. Location TBD

Email Addie Grosse to register at [email protected]
Editor Talk with Josh Gregory

Josh Gregory is an editor at Albert Whitman.

Details, date, time and location TBD

When: TBD in 2024

Time: TBD

Email Addie Grosse for more information.
Welcome Adelaide Grosse to the Chicago Southside Network! She is a children's and comic book illustrator who takes inspiration from the natural and supernatural world in drawing scientific and speculative works. Addie is looking for a co-rep to help bring programs to Hyde Park, if you are interested, please reach out.
Email Addie for more information:
Chicago Network
Stay tuned for programming in Spring 2024
North Suburban Network
In Person
Holiday Party
Join us for our Annual Holiday Party, back after a three year hiatus!

Please bring a dish or beverage to share.

When: Wednesday, December 13th

Time: 6:30 pm

Where: Carolyn’s house in Evanston

Wear: Sequins encouraged

Please RSVP to Carolyn at [email protected] and tell her what dish you’ll bring to share and she'll give you her address.

You can also email Ilana at [email protected] with any questions.

Cant wait to see you!
Find Your Writing Goals Through Tarot
Please join us for a fun and enlightening way to melt away the winter weather.

When: Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Time: 7:00 - 8:30 PM

via Zoom

Writing Goals & Tarot:

Back by popular demand! 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 2024!

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!
No need to RSVP.

Hope to see you then!
Email North Suburban Network Representatives Carolyn Crimi, Anny Rusk and Ilana Ostrar for more information.
Far North Suburban Network

4th Annual Virtual Holiday Gathering!

Join us for our fourth annual holiday gathering. BYOB and BYOS (snacks) as we hear from those that went to Prairie Writers Day and participate in some writer related games.

When: Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Time: 7:00 PM

via Zoom
Critique Night

Before you submit to agents and editors, they prefer if you have a new set of eyes on your work!

If you'd like to receive feedback on your work, please email a picture book manuscript or no more than five double spaced pages of a novel excerpt to Kim.

Instructions will be given when a reminder email is sent out.

When: Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Time: 7:00 pm

via Zoom
Planning Session

Join us as we reflect on the responses submitted via the Feedback Planning form. We'll discuss what we want out of future meetings and perhaps plan for the summer and fall.

When: Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Time: 7:00 PM

Where: Barnes & Noble, 901 N Milwaukee Ave in
Vernon Hills
Email Far North Suburban Network Representatives, Kim Oclon and Nicole Hewitt for more information:
Far Northwest Suburban Network
Third Wednesdays

If you'd like to share pages and receive feedback, please bring one picture book manuscript or no more than five double spaced pages of a novel excerpt.

We will meet at 6:30 PM the third Wednesday of the month from January to November at the Café in Barnes and Noble, 1470B East Golf Road in Schaumburg.

Mark your calendars for 6:30 PM on:
Wednesday, December 20, 2023
Wednesday, January 17 , 2024
Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Email Network Co-Reps Veronica Rundell and Liz Searle for more information:
Dundee Area Network

Critique Night

When: Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Time: 7:00 PM

via Zoom

Critique Night

When: Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Time: 7:00 PM

via Zoom

Critique Night

When: Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Time: 7:00 PM

via Zoom
Don't be shy! Everyone is welcome to attend! If you'd like to share pages and receive feedback, please bring up to 1,000 words. If you haven't heard Jenny read your picture book - you are missing out!
Email Network Rep & Co-Regional Advisor Jennifer Wagh if you are a first-time attendee.
Near West Suburban Network
(formally Oak Park & Near West Suburban Network)
Holiday Jolly!
Join the Near West Surburban Network for our first in-person event since the pandemic!

We'll celebrate with an open mic during the first part of the evening, followed by some festive merrymaking to honor Sallie Wolf's wonderful contribution as a network rep.

Bring along a page or so of some kidlit that speaks to you to read to the group (either your own writing or an excerpt from a favorite children's book) along with a beverage (alcoholic or otherwise) and an appetizer or dessert to share.

Malayna Evans, author of both children's and adult fiction, is kindly opening her house in Oak Park to us as a venue.

Please RSVP to Sarah Hammond who will provide location details if you plan to attend.

When: Thursday, December 14, 2023

Time: 7:00 PM

Using the Enneagram to Create Your Writing Goals

The Enneagram is a personality typing system that helps people understand themselves and how they relate to the world by identifying both positive and negative aspects of personality. By recognizing patterns of behavior, both good and bad, we can develop writing goals that are more in-line with our natural tendencies so that we can make progress on our goals.

No experience with the Enneagram is necessary ahead of time. However, if you would like the materials before our session, please email Gina at [email protected]
beginning January 2, 2024 (please put SCBWI Enneagram in the subject line).

When: Thursday, January 11, 2024

Time: 7:00 PM

via Zoom

A Day in the Life of a Children's Librarian

We're thrilled to welcome Rose Hopkins-LaRocco, Children's Services Director at the La Grange Park Public Library to talk about her exciting job, connecting kids to books and much more!

Hopkins-LaRocco has spent a good amount of her life in libraries. Her grandmother was a librarian and in high school, Rose’s first job was as a page at her local library. She strayed briefly to receive a degree in Theater at Columbia College Chicago and work in children’s theater. Therefore, she is uniquely qualified to be a children’s librarian, as play and storytelling were a main component of her education.

Rose received her Masters of Library and Information Science from Dominican University. She has been the Children’s Services Director at the La Grange Park Public Library since 2016. When not “librarianing,” she can be found walking her silly dog, baking and eating pastries, and of course, reading.

When: Thursday, February 8, 2024

Time: 7:00 PM

via Zoom
Email Network Rep Sarah Hammond for more information.
Bolingbrook-Naperville Network
Musicality in Manuscripts
Author Anitra Rowe Schulte will help us make our manuscripts sing.

She is author of DANCING WITH DADDY, illustrated
by Ziyue Chen (Two Lions) and WILLOW AND BUNNY, illustrated by Christopher Denise (Two Lions).

Her chapter book series STARLIN, illustrated by Katie Crumpton (Beaming Books), releases in 2024 and 2025.

When: Saturday, February 17, 2024

Time: 10:00 AM via ZOOM
Email Network Co-Reps Catherine Velasco and Mary & Rich Chamberlin for more information:
Geneva Network
The Geneva Network critiques in person at 7:00 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month at Geneva Public Library,  227 S 7th St. in Geneva - subject to weather.

Mark your calendars for in-person:
Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Wednesday, January 3, 2024
Wednesday, February 7, 2024

They also critique via Zoom on the fourth Tuesday of the month.

Mark your calendars for Zoom meetings:
Tuesday, January 23, 2024
Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Email Network Co-Reps Janet Riehecky and Cheryl App for more information:
Rockford Network

Author visit with Lorelei Savaryn

Come join us for a night with guest author visit Lorelei.

Lorelei is a writer, whose stories focus on the atmospheric and creepy, but always with a pulse of hope. She is represented by Chloe Seager at Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency in London.

When: Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Time: 6:00 PM

via Zoom


Join us via Zoom for a night of Character Development Exercises.

Bring pencils, paper and ideas!

When: Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Time: 6:00 PM

via Zoom
Email Network Co-Reps Karen Blaski and Gina Buckles for more information:
Galena-Freeport Area Network
To accommodate creators who work during the day, Network Rep. Jamie Petras said they are trying a new time for their unique critique meetings.

Each person gets 15 minutes to show their work or art, and get feedback. Or discuss any topic they want, sharing an article or illustration.

Mark your calendar for 6:30 to 8:30 PM:
January 23, 2024
February 27, 2024

Want to join the fun? Please contact Jamie for the Google Chat Link.
Email Network Rep Jamie Petras for more information.
East Central / Champaign-Urbana Network
Join us for a holiday gathering with fellow children's book creatives. We'll enjoy good conversation and tasty food and drink. If you wish, please wrap a gently used book for a book exchange.

Where: Fiesta Cafe, 216 S 1st St, Champaign, IL 61820

When: Monday, December 4, 2023

Time: 6:00 PM

RSVP: Elaine Bearden at
In Person

Calling all children's and young adult writers! Bring the first few pages of your manuscript for peer feedback.

Looking for creative community? Need a fresh set of eyes and ears to give feedback on a story? Have you started writing for children or young adults and don't know where to go next? Bring the typed first few pages of a manuscript you have been working on. You will have the opportunity to receive peer feedback in a supportive and constructive environment.

This program is a great way to meet others who are passionate about writing for youth and to learn about resources to assist you on your writing journey.

When: Sunday, January 28, 2024

Time: 2:00 pm

Where: The Urbana Free Library, 210 South Race Street, Urbana, IL 61801

This program is presented in collaboration with The Urbana Free Library.
Email Network Rep Elaine Bearden for more information:
Springfield Area Scribes Network
Holiday celebration, meal, exchange of gifts, party games.

Where: Bella Milano, 4525 Wabash Avenue, Springfield, IL 62711

When: Monday, December 4, 2023

Time: 6:00 PM

Critique Night

Springfield Scribes will meet via Zoom to critique 5 pages of MG & YA or entire PB.

When: Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Time: 6:00 PM

via Zoom

Critique Night

Springfield Scribes will meet via Zoom to critique 5 pages of MG & YA or entire PB.

When: Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Time: 6:00 PM

via Zoom
Email Network Rep Debra Daugherty for more info.
Edwardsville Network
The Network meets from 6 to 8 PM on the third Wednesday of the month at Books-A-Million, 6601 Edwardsville Crossing Drive in Edwardsville.

Mark your calendars for:
Wednesday: December 20, 2023
Wednesday: January 17, 2024
and Wednesday: February 21, 2024

Bring 5 pages to critique! We do in-person critiques but have traditionally asked that writers new to the group wait until their second meeting to submit work for critique. New writers welcome!
Email Network Juli Caveny for more information.
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