The writing was outrageously good this year. Seems that the pandemic (or being on lockdown with kids) has loosened the creative screws. So many stories were surreal or just so powerfully real that the images and events made for excellent reading:


This year we are awarding —


Four Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

“Love Warmed Over” – by Susana Martinez-Conde of Brooklyn, NY

“Yellow Farmhouse” – by Ashley Kretzschmer of Louisville, KY

“Like Us” – Robin Lanehurst of Houston, TX

“Seeds” – by Maylou Fusco of Baltimore, MD


OTHER SHORTLISTED STORIES: Somotoporaphrenia, Two Knocks, Dreamweavers, Hoarded, Oyster Pearls and Beta Fish, A Brief History of Peaches.


There are three top prizes this year, each with a one-year Title Membership.


A Title Membership at Pen Parentis includes unlimited Salons and the opportunity to participate in our weekly accountability group meetups online.


Third place, with a $100 prize and a one-year title membership, goes to “Half-Life” by Lara Henneman of Severn, MD, mother of two. This story is a haunting realistic fiction about living with the collateral damage of gunplay. The first sentence continues to resonate.


Second place with a $250 prize and a one-year title membership, is “Hive Mind” by Melissa Bowers of Gilroy, CA mother of two. (an amazing surreal story of vanishing bees and the vanishing identity of women who become mothers)


The Winner of the 2021-2022 Writing Fellowship for New Parents with the prize of $1000, a one-year membership, mentorship, publication in Dreamer’s Writing Magazine—a gorgeous magazine that publishes the winner both online and in print—and a public reading of this fantastic story in November, goes to:


“Dear Barbie Arm on the Corner of Fifth and Market” by Kelle Schillaci Clarke of Seattle, WA.

CONGRATULATIONS KELLE from all of us at Pen Parentis.



Everyone but cash prize winners are eligible and encouraged to compete again next year, and we would LOVE to help you promote your stories, whether or not you won a prize. Our goal at Pen Parentis is to get you motivated to create—we know that having kids poses some questions of time, energy and/or money—we hope that you don’t let your talent far dormant. Join us online on our Facebook group “Pen Parentis Behind Closed Doors” or if you want to really be a part of a community of writers dedicated to their craft and determined to enjoy parenthood at the same time—we would love to tell you more about Title Membership, which comes with weekly Meetups of likeminded parents with kids of all ages.


Congratulations to the winners – and since you actually all finished pieces and sent them out while also balancing kids under 10 and a pandemic, we say you are ALL winners this year.