Beth Peterson

Beth Peterson

As a judge (including when I am judging my own work) I give a great deal of weight to “pushing past the ordinary.” What I mean by that is: putting aside the first thing that springs to mind (it’s almost always a cliche) or giving it such a twist as to realign ‘the usual’ completely; reaching past the visual senses and engaging the other senses as well — touch, hearing, smell, taste; avoiding stereotypical characters and even stock phrases or again, using them in original ways; and last but not least, having an engaging writing style that shows knowledge of sentence structure, punctuation, grammar, and spelling (even if you twist things, such as when using regional dialog).


Trying to categorize SVW member Beth is like trying to catch a stream. She tends to fall out of pigeon holes… when she isn’t pushing herself out of them with a wicked twinkle in her eye. But… What can be said about her?

Beth began writing at the age of seven and sent out her first “novel” to a major publisher when she was nine. The inevitable First Pink Slip goal of every writer was thus earned early in life.

Not to be discouraged, but too interested in everything to sit still, Beth pursued the visual arts more fully as she grew into adulthood. She earned a BFA (Bachelor’s of Fine Art) in Studio Ceramics from Edinboro University of PA and had plans on entering the MFA program at Missoula, Montana. Life, though, had other ideas.

After a major flare-up of autoimmune problems, Beth had to reconsider her ability to work as an artist. She went back to college and earned an MA in clinical psychology. Writing a thesis is not as much fun as writing fiction, however. After graduation, she found that writing court-ordered evaluations (and doing the testing before that) was even less fun.

Beth was still actively painting and writing throughout all this time, even when working 70+ hours a week as a clinician. After leaving the profession of psychology, she went into full-time research then wrote a non-fiction book on maladaptive and destructive relationships, “People Who Play God.”

However, her first love in writing has always been fiction. She won the position of Pottery Guide for which allowed her to merge her love of writing, her love of clay, and her love of teaching and helping others. She was a Guide (think journalist-mentor) for three years with During that time, friends and colleagues introduced her to NaNoWriMo. Beth felt she had glimpsed Nirvana.

This past November, Beth won NaNoWriMo for the first time, to her utter delight. Even more delightful, however, has been her introduction to the writers in her region. Their support and friendship have been instrumental to her NaNoWriMo win and her continued efforts on the novel she is currently working on, “Wina’s Hell”. You can find Beth hanging out with the Shenandoah Valley Writers and on her website (links below). When she isn’t writing or working in her studio, that is. — Where creativity takes flight
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