2019-2020 Winner of the Pen Parentis Writing Fellowship for New Parents: THE STORYTELLER by Anjali Vaidya!

CONGRATULATIONS to ANJALI VAIDYA of San Diego, California for this excellent achievement!

THE STORYTELLER by Anjali Vaidya, was a haunting yet quiet fable set on a mysterious post-tragedy beach where seemingly only two children have survived. Neither polemic nor preachy, the folk tale of an ancestor brings hope to the children as they are forced to grow up too quickly in a bleak world. Full of vivid imagery, mystery, and subtle character building, the story surprised us with its powerful and inevitable ending. We can’t wait for you to see it in Dreamers Writing!

A biologist born in Pullman, Washington, who moved to Bangalore, India as an adolescent, Anjali has written and published many nonfiction articles and essays about the environment and science. Having relocated to California, she was moved to try her hand at fiction when she first heard of our Fellowship back in 2018. Her daughter was six months old then and as her beloved father’s health began to sharply decline, she was inspired to carve out some space for her creative mind. She wrote several flash stories of 100 words, and many 950 word stories to get comfortable with the form. She called her journey a “wonderful sanity-saving way to begin a year that was otherwise dominated by childcare and eldercare.” We are delighted to honor her with our 2020 Fellowship and hope she can make it out to accept our congratulations in person at November’s Salon–though we recognize that traveling across the nation with an active two-year old can be tricky! In the meanwhile, have a look at her website to get to know her – we expect to see great things from this emerging fiction writer! Congratulations Anjali!

Read the winning story, just published in Dreamers Creative Writing!


More Questions in an Artificial Tongue (a masterful and deceptively simple story about a guy desperately training for a job interview which brings in everything from hopeless desperation, to xenophobia, to word play, to an analogy of US Immigration policy without ever getting preachy) by Mojie Crigler of Cambridge, MA


The Fate of Freddy (a beautifully-written story of an imperiled infant told from the POV of a nurse who has seen it all) by Katherine Rigney of Aurora, OH 


Honorable Mentions:

Catechism  (a terrifying glimpse into how hatred can begin) by Molly Pascal of Pittsburg, PA

#Blessed (in which reality and social media painfully intertwine in a new parent) by Alyssa Hanada of Portland, OR

Inside the Alhambra (dazzling prose about how hard it is to teach children the powerful historical, cultural and life lessons of the world) by Candy Bedworth of Cwm Cewydd, Wales (<– WALES!) 

Colossal (a powerful feminist fable of being thrown to the Kraken and surviving) by Tara Laskowski of Fairfax, VA

Routine (full of twists and turns as a love relationship is revealed to be both more and less than it seems) by Jenny Belardi of Pittsburg, PA


Thank you for your beautiful writing everyone!

SPECIAL NOTE: to our second and third place winners, our finalists, and everyone who entered:  please know that as long as you have a child under 10 you are still eligible to enter again next year and we truly hope you do. Please send out these fantastic stories and let us know if they are picked up for publication. We are @PenParentis across all social media—tag us if the stories you wrote for this fellowship get published–we will spread the word! Our goal in awarding this Fellowship is to give you a good reason to create new prose in this very busy time of your life.  And to remind you that no matter how many kids you have, your talent is unaffected. You are all winners in our eyes. Keep writing. Congratulations!