Pen Parentis, Ltd, is a nonprofit organization that provides resources to authors who are also parents. Our Fellowship is intended to promote the creation of new work by writers who are at the busiest time of their lives as parents - we wish you all the best in your writing and with your families!

This Fellowship was established to encourage and inspire new, high-quality writing by parents of children under 10. The word count is intentionally low (there are CHALLENGES inherent in being a parent!) and the count changes every year, to incentivize the creation of new work.

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 as Title Member of Pen Parentis (including access to the accountability group of your choice) , and will be offered the opportunity to read their winning story online at the Pen Parentis Literary Salon on Tuesday, November 12, 2023. They will be reading with three established writers who are also parents, and will be offered a chance to interact personally with these authors. The confirmed readers will be available by September.

Second and Third Place winners will receive $500 and $250 and along with the winner will become part of our exclusive (and lovely) Fellowship Ring which includes a year of Pen Parentis Title Membership (with the accountability group of your choosing) -- we zoom twice per year.

(Gratitude to The deGroot Foundation for doubling the prizes!)

The winning story will be published in Dreamers Creative Writing Magazine (both online and in print) as well as included in the annual Dreamers Writing Anthology.  

The winner will reign as the Pen Parentis Fellow from November 2024 through November 2025, and will  gain full access to Pen Parentis Title Member perks during that time period. (It's a lot, so knock our socks off with your writing!) From time to time, as career opportunities arise, they will be presented to the Fellow.

Submission deadline April 17, 2024 at 11:59pm (EST) 

Word Count/FORMAT:

Submissions call for a new, never-published fiction story—any genre, on any subject—of up to 499 words, double-spaced in Times New Roman 12 point or similar font, with one inch margins.


We no longer accept mail-in submissions.

Write something new! You can do it!


If you are a Pen Parentis Title Member, your first entry is free (at higher levels, your second and third entry are also free, see website for details.)  

Put only the title of the story and its word count on the manuscript. Please number your pages!


One dependent child MUST still be under ten on November 12, 2024 for a writer to be eligible to win this Fellowship.

Please do NOT add any additional information in your cover note, even if you have published a thousand novels and won the Pulitzer. Just give us the information we request. We judge blind and prefer to be surprised by your extensive credentials.

Entry Fees will not be refunded. Simultaneous submissions are okay, please let us know if it is accepted elsewhere (we are thrilled for a writer when this happens! Acceptance is always good news!) Multiple submissions are fine: simply submit as if you were submitting for the first time.

Cover letters are not necessary. If you would like to tell us how you felt when you heard of our Fellowship and/or how you heard of us, we may use that as a testimonial on our website.


Judging is blind and based only on the following 5 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.


Q: Can I send my [insert genre/style/language] ?

All genres and styles of unpublished fiction are welcome. English must be the primary language and if we don't speak the secondary one, you better be pretty convincing. No plays or poetry (we love them, but sorry, no. If your narrative poem "can work" as fiction, please submit it as fiction. We love experimental fiction!) Novel excerpts are acceptable if they can stand alone as a story - don't tell us it is a novel excerpt until you win, we are judging stand-alone narratives.

Q: How do you feel about simultaneous or multiple subs?

Simultaneous submissions ok, but notify if published elsewhere.
Multiple submissions welcome, but separate entry fee for each submission (see above).
Title Members should read the Title Member rules.

Q: How do I know if I am a Title Member or not?

Title Members support Pen Parentis by monthly donations. If you are not making a monthly donation to Pen Parentis, you are either a Basic Member or you have just heard about us. Hi! Feel free to upgrade to Title Membership if you like! (find out more at If you used to be a Title Member but canceled your subscription or if you are a member for life, you probably already know that. Members for Life are at Laundry Marker Level.

Also? Thanks for your support. It helps offset costs like this Submittable subscription.

Q: I made a mistake can I send you an edit?

No. Please proof your work before you send it.

Q: I have a very good reason you should refund my entry fee, will you please consider it?

No. Entry fees will not be refunded.

Q: What if I won before?

Previous CASH winners of this fellowship are not eligible. Finalists, long listed & honorable mentions are absolutely encouraged to try again. Second or Third place winners who did not win cash awards are also fine to try again!

Winner: please list our Fellowship in your writing bio for the 12 months following your reading in NYC!

See our website at for past winners.

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Pen Parentis