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!


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 in New York City on Tuesday, November 10, 2020. 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.

Word Count/FORMAT:

Submissions call for a new, never-published fiction story—any genre, on any subject—of up to 710 words, double-spaced in Times New Roman 12 point or similar font, with one inch margins.

DO NOT PUT YOUR NAME OR ANY SORT OF CONTACT INFO ON THE STORY ITSELF. If you are submitting electronically, just put the title of the story, word count, and page numbers in your header. 

If you are submitting by mail only, please see mail-in guidelines below for your discount.

We change word count each year 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!


 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 guidelines.) Supporting Title members may mail in your free submissions and write TITLE MEMBER and your LEVEL on the outside of the envelope. (It is okay to fold your manuscript and put it into a normal envelope; no one wants to take a trip to Staples in the rain) Or follow the link in the email that was sent to you directly.

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 10, 2020 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. We judge blind and prefer to be surprised by your extensive credentials.

The contest seeks submissions starting March 1 and ends the submission period April 17, 2020 (midnight - or postmark deadline). 

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: online you simply have to submit as if you were submitting for the first time. See below for discount if you mail in multiple subs. 

Multiple entry discount & special BY MAIL discount.

Note that if you wish you may choose to submit by regular mail, the entry fee by check is now only $15 (no processing fee)—and you can enter two stories for $20. Want to enter more? $10 per story. Mailing address is Pen Parentis Writing Fellowship, 176 Broadway Suite 14F, New York, NY 10038. You may, if you choose, submit multiple stories online, but each electronic entry is $15 plus the $5 fee. Please don't ask about hybrid email/snail entries. THE MULTIPLE-ENTRY DISCOUNT IS FOR MAILED-IN ENTRIES ONLY! 

BY MAIL ONLY (THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO ENTRIES SUBMITTED VIA SUBMITTABLE) PLEASE ENCLOSE A COVER SHEET WITH YOUR FULL CONTACT INFORMATION. IF WE CAN NOT READ IT WE CAN NOT TELL YOU THAT YOU WON. IF YOU MOVE OR CHANGE PHONE NUMBERS OR EMAIL ADDRESSES DITTO. On this cover sheet write your name, your author name (if applicable), the word count, your address, your email address, your phone number (only for contacting the winner), and the number of kids you have including at least one that is under 10 years old on Nov. 10, 2020. 

Cover letters are not necessary. REMEMBER TO ENCLOSE YOUR ENTRY FEE, if any and to write TITLE MEMBER if you are a title member. If you are higher-level title member, let us know that too, for your multiple entry discount.


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.


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.) 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 on complete 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). 

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 the Laundry Marker Level. (One free entry per year.) 

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 forgot to put my contact info on my mailed-in form. Can you find it in the huge pile of entries please? It has a manilla envelope and the stamp is either a literary superstar or a Disney villain. 

No. Feel free to submit fresh as if it were a multiple submission. This also goes for entries that are in strange colored or sized envelopes, written with marker/crayon, and covered in glitter. We are not going to try to fish your MS out of the pile because you forgot to tell us how to contact you when you win!! Please make sure we can contact you when you win. 

Q: I forgot to put my check in for my mailed-in submission.

This pains us but you have to send it together. On the good side, you are only out your mailing fees and some inconvenience. We have different interns that sort and they vanish the entries that have no submission fees upon receipt. Sorry - we do know that baby brain can be rough on the organization of your writing life. Hang in there. 

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 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!
See our website at for past winners. 

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