The 2021 Beacon Award Goes to Tiffany Quay Tyson

We're pleased to announce the winner of the 2021 Beacon Award for Excellence in Teaching: Tiffany Quay Tyson. The Beacon Award is an award established over twelve years ago by writers who take workshops with our stellar faculty, and the tradition of celebrating annually continues to this day.  It should be noted that the nominations, deliberations, and ultimate decisions are made entirely by the community, not by Lighthouse staff, which makes the entire enterprise all the more special. We'll be officially celebrating Tiffany at our December 4 Holiday Party, but in the meantime, we've solicited a couple short testimonials from some of her fans, below.

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"Describing Tiffany Quay Tyson (TQT) in only one word is impossible. I know because I asked several TQT fans to describe her in one word, and the words were spot on but different. So, from a dedicated group of fans, in a word, Tiffany is brave, insightful, kind, perceptive, dedicated, supportive, multi-talented, compassionate, helpful, and brilliant. In yet one more word, Tiffany is that elusive creature, the unicorn: unusual and unique to such a degree that an encounter is unforgettable. (You could swap the word unforgettable here with countless others like life-altering.) When I said I had asked fans to give me one word describing her, I could have swapped the word fan above with groupie, and it might have been more accurate. There was even recent email chatter about TQT tattoos after finding out Tiffany had won the coveted Beacon Award.

"To give you an idea of why Tiffany inspires such fandom, I should take you through some of my experiences with her. My first memory of Tiffany was her talk during a Book Project intensive weekend. Although it was several years ago, I remember it vividly. How she broke down a paragraph in Educated by Tara Westover fueled a new approach to my writing. A year later, I signed up for her workshop. The craft talks, handouts, and feedback were some of the most helpful I’ve ever received. Plus, the community feeling she created, even though we were neck-deep in a global pandemic and on Zoom, made me feel as if I had found my people after a blindfolded search through a prickly pear maze.

"So, I asked Tiffany to do my second read for the Book Project, and I signed up for her next workshop. And after that was over, I signed up for her next workshop. Without hesitation, I can say that I wouldn’t be nearing the end of my novel’s third draft without Tiffany. If that isn’t tattoo worthy, I’m not sure what is. Congratulations, Tiffany, on a well-deserved Beacon Award win from me and all your fans!"

Kristin Kirsch Feldkamp has an MFA in creative writing and is a Book Project alum. Currently, Kristin is working on a novel and an editing certificate at the University of Chicago. Her articles and essays have appeared in Colorado ParentScary MommyShe-FilesLiterary Mama, and other publications. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn and Instagram, although she is old school and prefers her social interactions to be IRL. 

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"Tiffany is one of those types who's both generous and prepared. I walk away from class not only armed with ideas for my own writing, but with a list of “must read” books. It’s clear she’s benefitted from good editors and wants to pay that forward as much as she possibly can; taking a class with her helps me become both a better writer and reader. It's not just her knowledge of the subject matter, but also her obvious curiosity and true interest in the opinions or thoughts of others. Her classes are as thoughtful as her feedback—you will write, you will discuss, you will think, and your brain will thank you for all of the above. I immediately went to the Lighthouse website to see what other classes she teaches and clicked to be notified when new classes she is instructing become available."

Leah M. Charney hails from a long line of Southern women, so her hair is nearly as big as her personality. Her words have worked wonders for behemoth corporations, teeny nonprofits, and appeared in publications ranging from Fodors to Colorado Life Magazine to AARP, but, like any good writer worth her salt, she also has an unfinished novel, an unfinished memoir, and too many finished-but-unpitched essays to admit to. 

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"Tiffany is one of the best instructors I’ve ever had. She is deeply invested in her students and their work. She genuinely cares about the people in her classes and the stories they’re working to tell. The depth and level of feedback she gives is both encouraging and sobering. She doesn’t hold back, even on horribly uncomfortable topics or issues. But she speaks with courageous kindness, and that makes those touchy truths easier to accept. She balances a mix of cheering me on for what I’ve done so far with mapping out how much further I have to go. And she truly believes I can do it, which sometimes is the most important feedback a writer can get. I am so thankful to have taken her classes and grateful to Lighthouse for honoring her skills."

Kerry McGinley is a recovering journalist and former corporate communications hack. She's thrilled to be part of the Book Project, and she's thankful for the people, tools and resources that make up the Lighthouse community.

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I’m such a fan of Tiffany. I took my first workshop with her a couple years ago and was immediately struck by her integrity as a teacher and her skill in guiding other writers to hone their voice and their craft. It is a special thing when a teacher can really see: see the heart of a piece, see the little threads of gold in a draft and lift them, see how to deliver a message that can be heard and call a writer deeper into their craft. Again and again, in soft and loud ways, I have seen Tiffany impact her students, skillfully providing content and feedback to make us better writers. Because of her attention and courage, I feel I also leave Tiffany’s classes a better human. Both matter. And I’m grateful to her for the ways she’s been a role model for me as a writer and a leader.

Beth Sebian is a theology student turned software engineer who is a second-year in the Book Project. She loves brunch, household projects that grow exponentially out of control, exploring Colorado's natural wonders, and woodworking.