Springfield Writers’ Guild – Wayne Warner (center) president. Meeting at Heritage Cafeteria. circa 1973

In 1943, a few local writers from southwest Missouri decided a writers’ group was needed. The Springfield Writers’ Guild (SWG) was formed with the first president being Donna Ashworth Thompson. It is one of the first chapters of the Missouri Writers’ Guild (MWG) which was founded in 1915 by Walter Williams, the founder of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism in Columbia, MO. There are sister chapters all over the state. The SWG operates as a non-profit organization under the State of Missouri with a license that is renewed bi-annually.  In 2018, the Guild celebrated 75 years of writing excellence with cake!

Meeting at Heritage Cafeteria

Meeting at the Heritage Cafeteria – Springfield – 2015

Coming Together

The goals of the Guild are simple. To promote the craft of writing we will:

  • Encourage local writers in their craft.
  • Provide mutual support among members.
  • Encourage aspiring writers to become published writers.
  • Encourage writers in the marketing of their literary material for payment.

The Guild accomplishes these purposes by emphasizing mentoring, genre interest, motivation, publishing, and writing skills.

Meeting at McAlisters -2018

Meeting at McAlister’s – 2018

The SWG began meeting in one of the former Heritage Cafeteria restaurants on Sunshine Street in Springfield. Outgrowing that location in June 1990, the group moved to the Heritage Cafeteria on Battlefield Road. When the Heritage Cafeteria folded in August 2016, the SWG began an area-wide search for another meeting place. In September of that same year, the group began meeting at McAlister’s Deli on West Battlefield.

A Diverse Group

The Guild’s annual membership averages around 100, with some members attending from other states like Oklahoma and Arkansas. Two “at-large” members live in California and Oregon. It is a diverse group of writers representing multiple genres … science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, thriller/suspense, romance, women’s fiction, inspirational drama, and variations of all. The group includes a mix of men and women, young and old. There are scriptwriters and songwriters as well as historical and creative nonfiction writers. The writers gear their stories toward children, young adult, and adult audiences.

Former long-time member, Lee Ann Russell drew up the first By-laws and SWG constitution in 1986. It was updated and revised in August 2013 by Yvonne Erwin and the Board of Directors when the need was seen to offer full membership to all who had an interest in writing, as opposed to only published writers. The Guild elects a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and director-at-large annually. The President then appoints a webmaster, mentor hour leader, and historian. A historian was added to the appointed leaders in 1986. LeeAnn Russell served as the Guild’s historian from 1986-2016 until she passed.  (see below)

Annual dues started out at $4 before gradually increasing to $6 in 1991, $8 in 1996, $10 in 2003, and the current rate of $15 in 2006. The dues cover incidental costs of producing and sending a newsletter, contest prizes, and speaker fees.

The Beginning of Mentor Hour

Parrott, Wanda Sue

Wanda Sue Parrott

In 1996, a mini 50-year history was published under the leadership of Wanda Sue Parrott, president. In that same year, the first SWG Mentor Hour was held. According to Parrott, “It wasn’t called ‘Mentor Hour’ at first. People donated $1 to attend from 11 a.m. until noon and then stayed for lunch and open mic readings, playing music and even singing while we dined together. It slowly grew, but only a few participated in those early days. People liked to go into the dining area and mingle. If memory serves me right, Tom Withers named it ‘The Mentor Hour’ and Larry Cunningham was in charge of it.”

Weyland, Nick

Nick Weyland

Today, Mentor Hour is one of the highlights of each monthly meeting where Guild members bring a sampling (three pages) of their writing for feedback and constructive critique by other members. It is a time of learning and camaraderie, and sometimes mild bantering and fun. Nick Weyland is the appointed Mentor Hour coordinator, having served in this capacity since 2006.

Membership Directories & Website

In 2002, the first SWG membership directories were printed and given out to members. Three years later, in 2005, the Guild almost disbanded due to lack of members and leadership until Phillip Hood volunteered to serve as president. Under his leadership, the group grew and found stability. Hood directed the Guild to hold a writers’ conference in 2006 and also started the SWG website in 2002.

Smith, Terry

Terry Smith

In 2007, Terry Smith was named the Guild’s Webmaster and continues to serve in that capacity. The website was updated in 2015 by President Wayne Groner and again in 2017 by President Yvonne Erwin. Candy Simonson assisted with the update and changeover from Yahoo to WordPress.

Honorary Lifetime Members

Wayne Warner

Wayne Warner

Sue McDonald

Sue McDonald

Wayne Warner and Sue McDonald are the SWG’s longest honorary lifetime members (HLM). Warner joined in 1971 and served as president from 1975-1976, and later served as president of the Missouri Writers’ Guild. McDonald joined in 1975 and was the SWG’s president from 1979-1980.

Other honorary lifetime members (HLM) include Marilyn K. Smith (joined 1986), Larry Cunningham (1987), Theresa Bade (1988), and Wanda Sue Parrott (1988). Smith, Cunningham, Bade, and Parrott became HLMs in 2013. Bade served as president from 1997-1998; Cunningham was elected president in 2011; Parrott was president in 1996, and Smith served several years as Secretary and Director-at-Large. In order to be accorded HLM status, a member must be consistent in attendance for twenty-five years and served the Guild in some type of leadership capacity.

Other Honorary Lifetime Members

Longest Service

LeeAnn Russell (7/26/42-1/11/2017) had the longest running time on the SWG Board, serving a total of 30 consecutive years in every possible capacity.  Russell loved the Guild and served as President in 1986-1987 and 2007-2008.  She was also Vice-President three times; Secretary twice; Treasurer two times; Director-at-Large eight times; Contest chair four times; and Historian from 1993-2016.  She joined the SWG in 1974 and took special pride and honor in preserving the Guild’s archives.  In 1999 she was accorded the title of Honorary Life Member.  An award-winning poet and photographer, she placed over 800 times in various contests.  Her booklet, How to Write Poetry, From Ballad to Villanelle helped many poets.  Russell passed on January 11, 2017.

The First Anthology

2015 Anthology cover

The first anthology was put out by the Guild in 1995 under President Barbara Quin.

Creative Collectionswas published in 2015 under President Wayne Groner and is currently available on Amazon. It highlights stories of SWG members with nostalgia, romance, science fiction and more.

Longest Running President – Yvonne Erwin

Yvonne Erwin has served as President for three terms, giving her the longest running time as President (2012-2014, 2016-2018, and 2019-2020).  She has served on the Board for twelve consecutive years, serving as Vice-President, Secretary, Director-at-Large, and Contest Chairperson.  Erwin is the author of women’s fiction and has three books on Amazon: Discovery of Joy; The Sisters of Madelaine Lane, and A Glimpse of Glory.  You can find her at y-write.blogspot.com.

Genre Groups

In 2019, President Chris Keller introduced Genre Groups where writers of like interests could gather. By 2022, four active genre groups meet once or twice monthly either in person or by Zoom. Genre groups include the nonfiction group, sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal group, inspirational group, and thriller group.

The year 2020 brought great challenges with the global pandemic and for the first time, meetings were canceled. Under the leadership of President Chris Keller, a new avenue was pursued through the technology of Zoom. Most of 2020’s monthly meetings were held online with great attendance and no loss of membership as writers found camaraderie through online meetings.


Springfield Writers’ Guild meets the fourth Saturday of every month (except December) at the Library Center on South Campbell in Springfield. Mentor Hour (10:00) Speaker (11:00) Business Meeting (12:00). Some genre groups meet afterward during lunch. Yearly dues are $15 (renewable in January). Visitors are welcome at no charge.

15 Responses to About

  1. Johnny Robinson says:

    Please have Nick Weyland, Mentor Coordinator,contact me at jrobinson04@yahoo.com…Thank You!


  2. Thank you for the great article


  3. jerry gentry says:


    i recently took a break from writing and selling computer programs to write a math book.

    Calm Down! It’s Only Math .. Learn Math Without Having to Learn Math.

    i wrote it for people who want to learn a little more math and don’t want to strain their brain.

    The book (paperback and kindle ebook) is available on Amazon.

    i have been unable to find anyone who can take the file i used to create the amazon kindle ebook and put an ebook on apple’s ibooks store .. apple said that since i use windows computers i have to have someone else do it for me .. i would be willing to pay for the service.

    Jerry Gentry .. age 77 .. jerrywa0h@sbcglobal.net .. 417-883-9326


  4. Shayne Turner says:

    I’ve been writing poetry for some time now but dont know how to follow up to see if its good enough to get published.


    • Shayne, joining a writers’ group where others can read and critique your writing is a great help in honing your craft. There are several poets’ groups in the area. We also have a few poets in our group. You’re more than welcome to come and visit.


  5. Sandra Villarreal says:

    Looking for an Auther to help with a book I am working on, very special project


  6. anncomp10 says:

    Well done! Lovely article. Hoping to join in January.


  7. Ruth Cardinel says:

    I am interested in learning more about this group. I have been writing most of my life and would appreciate the support and encouragement of others. Any information would be appreciated.


    • Our first meeting of the year is this Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Library Center on Campbell (Springfield). We start at 11:00 a.m. You are more than welcome to join us and see if it’s a good fit for you. Visitors are welcome at no charge.


  8. How can I become a member? How often do you meet? Do you meet in person or via zoom currently?

    Thank you!
    Angela Hammond Denny


    • You may join online with your credit card or PayPal, or send a check to the treasurer. (See the Members page). We currently meet via ZOOM. The link will be on the website as well as on the Facebook Springfield Writers’ Guild Forum page. Hopefully we will begin meeting again in person at the Library Center in Springfield.


  9. Rachel Farris says:

    I am interested in information. I’m a new writer and not for sure of how this all works. I’m seeking guidance and help with my writing and to find an agent. If you can please contact me at 417 705 5364 at your earliest convenience. Thank you very much. Have a blessed day.
    Rachel Farris


    • Hi, Rachel – Your request was not made public simply because it has your phone number listed. Join us this Saturday at the Library Center in Springfield. You may ask your questions then, and will definitely receive help with your writing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s