The 2020-2021 Writing Fellow:
Dawn Ryan

(click name for bio)

The 2021-2022 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 $1000 to further their writing career, a year of mentorship, and will be offered the opportunity to read their winning story at the Pen Parentis Literary Salon on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 (online, or in-person if bookstore events have resumed) 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.
Submissions call for a new, never-published fiction story—any genre, on any subject—of up to 550 words, double-spaced in Times New Roman 12 point or similar font, with one inch margins.
Put only the title of the story and its word count on the manuscript. Please number your pages!
On a detachable cover page, put your name, best phone number (if you are our grand prize winner, we generally call with that news), and best email address (if your work is not the grand prize, but we think you deserve a particular mention, we will let you know by email). Also on the cover page, put the number of children you have and their prospective ages on November 9, 2021.
If you are currently pregnant with your first child or hoping to adopt your first child before November 9, 2021, please wait and enter in 2022. This contest is for people who are currently taking care of young kids and trying to write. (You’ll see…)
One dependent child MUST still be under ten on November 9, 2021 for a writer to be eligible to win this Fellowship.
You may, if you like, answer the question: “how did you feel when first hearing about Pen Parentis?” on the cover page that holds your name, address and best phone number & email address & kid info. 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.
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 (see above). Entry fees will not be refunded. Previous winners of this fellowship are not eligible. Finalists, honorable mentions, and second and third place winners are absolutely encouraged to try again.
Winner: please list our Fellowship in your writing bio for the 12 months following your reading in NYC!
If submitting electronically, follow the instructions on Submittable for formatting MS.
The contest seeks submissions starting March 1 and ends the submission period April 17, 2021 (midnight – or postmark deadline).
Please note: we change word count each year because 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.
Write something new! You can do it!

We are keeping the new lower entry fee!

ALSO: there is a multiple-entry discount by mail

Entry is now only $15 by mail—and you can enter two stories for $20. Want to enter more? $10 per story. 

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. If you submit online, there is a $5 extra fee to cover costs of using PayPal but if you send your entry by mail, there are no extra fees!

BY MAIL ($15 for first story, $20 for two, $10 for each story after):
Make checks to Pen Parentis, Ltd.
Mail entries to: Pen Parentis Writing Fellowship for New Parents, 176 Broadway, Suite 14F, New York, NY, 10038. You may include a stamped, self-addressed postcard if you wish receipt to be acknowledged. No SASE required as manuscripts will not be returned.

BY ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION (each story is $15 + $5 processing fee) multiple entries are allowed, but not discounted. Here is more info on electronic submissions. You can enter your submission from that page.


First Entry FREE FOR ALL TITLE MEMBERS (all supporting levels from $10/month and up)


Third entry – FREE for FOUNTAIN PEN LEVEL only

Note that these rates are currently available to Title Members by mail and by the special secret link you will receive in your email around March 1, 2021. Didn’t get it? Contact us!

In the meantime, 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 August 15, 2020.

Please make sure that author contact information includes email and phone! Shortlisted entries will be announced on the website and our Facebook Page only – please check back in September to see how you did! (sign up for our RSS feed on the blog or to our newsletter to have contest results delivered to your inbox)

Mail entries to: Pen Parentis Writing Fellowship for New Parents, 176 Broadway, Ste. 14F, New York, NY, 10038. You may include a stamped, self-addressed postcard if you wish receipt to be acknowledged. No SASE required as manuscripts will not be returned.


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.

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 on the second Tuesday of the November after their win in a convivial literary location in Manhattan, 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.


The new Fellow will also receive $1000, presented at a Pen Parentis Literary Salon on November 9, 2021, in conjunction with their reading of the winning work. Pen Parentis will publicize this reading for the author and will provide author with any press clips that mention author’s name. Pen Parentis encourages, but does not require, attendance to subsequent Salons in order to 1) be introduced to other authors and 2) network with prospective editors, agents, and readers.

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.

For one year after their win, the Fellow will also have access to Pen Parentis expertise via phone or email for any writing questions and Pen Parentis will mentor this author throughout the year.

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 there is no provided travel budget. Winners are responsible for their own transportation costs to the reading location in New York City should the reading be in person.


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

Huge thanks to Michael C Allen, CPAs for their continued support!

In association and with great thanks to: