Our CURRENT Writing Fellow:
Sarah Courteau

(click name for full bio!)

The NEXT Writing Fellow:

  • This could be your picture.
  • This could be your name.
  • This could be your bio.
  • These could be your writing credits.
  • This could be a link to your author website.
  • These could be links to your published works.
  • These could be your upcoming events.
  • This could be a way that agents and editors could contact you.

Only one way to make it happen:
Submit your story!




One talented writer who is the parent of at least one child under 10 years old will receive $2000 to further their writing career, a year of mentorship, and will be offered the opportunity to read their winning story online at a Pen Parentis Literary Salon in Fall 2023. Their winning story will also be published in Dreamers Creative Writing Magazine (both online and in print) as well as included in the annual Dreamers Writing Anthology.
Second prize and third prize will likewise be welcomed into our Cycle of Support and receive $500 and $250 respectively.
See FAQ for even more on the prize! 
Submissions call for a new, never-published fiction story—any genre, on any subject—of up to 531 words, double-spaced in Times New Roman 12 point or similar font, with one inch margins.
Please note: we change the word count each year! One of the goals of this project is to keep parents working — motivating all writers to continue to create new high-quality creative writing at the very busiest time of the parenting journey. We keep word count intentionally low.  Write something new! You can do it!

Put only the title of the story and its word count on the manuscript. Nothing to identify the writer. 
On that note: Judging is blind and based only on the following criteria:
  1. adherence to contest rules
  2. creativity
  3. narrative arc
  4. emotional truth
  5. elements of surprise, humor, writing skill, and/or layers of depth.
All genres and styles of unpublished fiction are welcome. No plays or poetry (we love them, but sorry, no.) Novel excerpts are acceptable only if they can stand alone as a story – do not tell us it is a novel excerpt until you win, including in the file name and cover letter.

Simultaneous submissions ok, but notify if published elsewhere.

Multiple submissions welcome, but separate entry fee for each submission.

Entry fees will not be refunded. Previous Pen Parentis Fellows and 2nd/3rd Prize winners are not eligible if they received a cash prize.

(Anyone who placed or was a finalist and did not receive a cash award is encouraged to try again!)

Winner: please list our Fellowship in your writing bio for the 12 months following your reading in NYC!
Submission period ends April 17, 2023 (midnight EST).

We are not kidding; we want you to push yourself to create new work!

Entry fees fund the operation of Pen Parentis, Ltd, with priority given to the maintenance of this Fellowship. $5 of the fee covers our costs of accepting credit cards.

Accepted Document Types: pdf, doc, docx, txt, rtf

(Submissions for this year’s Fellowship are open March 1 – April 17. Thanks!)

Electronic Submissions


You must be a current paid-to-date Title Member to take advantage of this offer. Please use the special link found below. (Your entry fee can not be refunded if you accidentally submit the usual way, sorry)

First Entry FREE FOR ALL TITLE MEMBERS (all supporting subscription levels from $10/mo Laundry Marker and up):   click here.

You must be logged in to see the page.

Second Entry FREE for $150/yr LAPTOP & $15/mo SHARPENED PENCIL LEVEL

Third entry – FREE for $20/mo FOUNTAIN PEN LEVEL only

Write your stories! Submit your stories!

(find out about becoming a supporting Title Member of Pen Parentis)

Winner will be announced on the Pen Parentis website and by email or phone to the winning author on or before September 1 of the entry year.

Please make sure that author contact information includes email and phone! Shortlisted entries will be announced on the website only – please check back in September to see how you did! You can also sign up for Basic membership (at no cost) to have contest results delivered to your inbox.


  1. Publication! The winning story will be published by our wonderful new partners at Dreamers Creative Writing. Online, in their beautiful print magazine, and finally in the annual print anthology (which also has ebook format). Dreamers is a Canadian print journal dedicated to heartfelt writing. On their website, you can get healing writing tips and prompts, find out where to submit your writing, or discover some of the world’s best writing workshops and retreats.
  2. Promotion! The winning author will also be showcased for one year on our website as the “Pen Parentis Writing Fellow,” a new emergent author worthy of notice. The Fellow will receive a public showcase by the second Tuesday of the November paired with established authors who may function as inspiration and guide. See below:

2010 Fellow Abby Sher read with Jennifer Egan and Darin Strauss
2011 Fellow Frank Haberle read with Sarah Gardner Borden and Rebecca Wolff
2012 Fellow Sarah Gerkensmeyer read with John Reed, Theodore Hamm, and Rene Steinke
2013 Fellow John Jodzio read with Will Allison, Amy Shearn, and Liz Rosenberg
2014 Fellow Jess deCourcy Hinds read with David Gilbert, Mira Jacob and Julia Fierro
2015 Fellow Orli Van Mourik read with Jack Miller, Tim O’Mara and Ed Lin
2016 Fellow Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan read with Simon Van Booy, Daphne Uviller, and Thelma Adams
2017 Fellow Megan Pillow Davis read with Jessica Shattuck, Whitney Terrell, and Kara Kraus
2018 Fellow Jennifer Fliss read with Carla Du Pree, Helen Benedict and Herta Feely
2019 Fellow Anjali Vaidya read with Marie Myunk-Ok Lee, Jimin Han, and Keetje Kuipers (with special guest Abby Sher!)
2020 Fellow Dawn Ryan read with Bushra Rehman, Matt Jakubowski and Robert Levy.
2021 Fellow Kelle Schillaci Clarke read with Amy Shearn, Jotham Burello & Sara Schaff.
2022 Fellow Sarah Courteau read with Alice Kaltman, Ami Sands Brodoff, and Julie Steil.


3.  Rewards! The new Fellow will ALSO receive $2000, by check, and be presented at a Pen Parentis Literary Salon, in conjunction with their reading of the winning work. We will mail the check to an address you provide after the public presentation.

4. Publicity! Pen Parentis will ALSO publicize writing success stories on behalf of the Fellow for the entire year of the Fellowship. Pen Parentis encourages, but does not require, attendance to subsequent Salons and participation in a weekly Accountability Group in order to 1) be introduced to other authors and 2) network with prospective editors, agents, and readers.

5. Accolades! Finally, Pen Parentis will feature the winner on our website for one year, updating his/her accomplishments to the community as notified, and will link to their author website and/or blog, if any, and will promote the author when they attend regular Pen Parentis author salon events.

6. AND mentorship? YES! In addition to complimentary participation at a weekly Accountability Group, for one year after their win, the Fellow will also have access to Pen Parentis expertise via phone or email for any writing questions. Pen Parentis will continue to mentor this author throughout the year and connect them to prior Fellows.

YES: Please fill out ALL of the requested information on the Submittable Form including the number of children you have and their prospective ages on November 1 of the year you enter.
OF COURSE: If you move during the year or change contact info, remember to let us know! We can’t tell you you’ve won if we can’t contact you!
STILL PREGNANT? If you are currently pregnant with your first child or hoping to adopt your first child before November of the year you enter, please wait and enter in the following year. This contest is for people who are currently taking care of young kids and trying to write. (You’ll see…)
HOW MANY KIDS? One dependent child MUST still be under ten on November 1 of the year of your entry for a writer to be eligible to win this Fellowship. It’s fine to have more, but you can’t have fewer and remain eligible.
OPTIONAL: You may, if you like, answer the question: “how did you feel when first hearing about Pen Parentis?” on the cover page. Please do NOT add any additional information beyond what we have requested in your cover note, even if you have published a thousand novels and won the Pulitzer. We judge blind and prefer to be surprised by your extensive credentials and background when we call you to tell you you’ve won.
IMPATIENT? Winner will be announced on the Pen Parentis website and by email or phone to the winning author on or before September 1 of the year you enter. Winners list will be sent out shortly thereafter to all who submitted and posted on our homepage. Expect no other communications.

Important note: Entrants must be the parent of at least one child under 10 yrs old at the time of the public reading. While we accept submissions from anywhere, applicants are advised that payment will be in US dollars and drawn on a US bank and taxes are the responsibility of the recipient.


The Pen Parentis Fellowship is generously supported by a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation in California, Amazon Smile Foundation, and individual donors.

With major support from our loyal friends at:

In association and with great thanks to: