Please welcome fellow retired nurse, Dee Phelps, who will describe her own journey to the writing life, and her award-winning novel, The Disappointment Room. disappointrm

Out of the Closet
By Dee Phelps

In my former life I was a nurse. As a nursing student – a million years ago – my husband and I and our three year-old son lived in a tiny apartment. To get any study time accomplished, I needed a quiet No Mommy Zone. We had a walk-in-closet that was, thankfully, big enough to smoosh a little writing desk up against the back wall. It was my saving grace and it served its purpose; albeit claustrophobic and filled with the fragrant aroma of old sneakers. The closet worked – then.

Ten years ago my husband passed away suddenly and tragically. I was at a crossroads in my life. Would I continue on nursing, or, veer off the familiar path and venture down the thicket-filled, dark and scary lane of writing? Choices can sometimes be confusing, and sticking with the safest alternative is most often the easiest way. Having mucked in blood and guts for over twenty five years, and having raised three boys, easy was not in my vocabulary.

With My Three Sons, aka, The Three Stooges, grown and happily ensconced in their own lives and professions, I decided to delve into my lifelong pursuit of writing. I decided to live the dream.

“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

I retired my bedpan and hung up my stethoscope and went back to school. After all, what did I know about writing? I had trouble spelling aye – I mean, I. With a new degree under my stretchy-waisted jeans, I took the next step along the unknown literary road.

But, herein lies the vast difference of my closet days and these days. I still hear my youngest son’s plaintive cry: “Mom! You sold my bedroom furniture and made my room into an office?” With no remorse, I responded, “Why yes. Yes I did! No more closet for me!” The look on his face was priceless.

Out of that one-windowed bedroom with a lovely view of my neighbors chain-linked fence, came dozens of magazine articles, a children’s book and The Silver Falchion Award winning novel for Best First Novel 2014, The Disappointment Room. No pun intended!

I live a little life, in a little house in a little town, but I sure do feel like a millionaire! But, for all my blessings, it is still time for changes. Time for growth and new experiences. I have rented an apartment in the Tuscan hills for six months at a writers and artist’s retreat. It is an ancient walled villa perched on a hill and my writing space overlooks Florence, an olive grove and a vineyard.

By chance or by design, we must move forward toward self-fulfillment and our own personal nirvana. Despite adversity and day-to-day passivity, keep your dreams close and stive to make them a reality.

Whether it’s a closet, a make-shift bedroom office or Tuscany—no matter what your view—make your dreams your main focus.


The past collides with the present in this exciting tale that begins in 1844 on Coffin Point Plantation, Beaufort, South Carolina. Beginning with Charles Knight, locked away in a Disappointment Room, with only Munday, his black nanny, and Helen, her daughter, for companions, the Knight family saga is set in motion.
THE DISAPPOINTMENT ROOM is a gripping story of human bondage and the relentless search for freedom; freedom from the ghosts, secrets, terrors, and atrocities of the past. But the past keeps coming back.
A fast-paced, exciting read infused with the Gullah culture, voodoo, slavery, and the politics of the antebellum and contemporary South.

“Phelps’ amazing first novel is a spellbinding saga of a young man imprisoned in a hidden room in a South Carolina plantation where dark family secrets, slavery, and the Gullah culture of superstition come to life on the page. Don’t miss this one!” CASSANDRA KING, bestselling author of The Sunday Wife and Moonrise.

“A compelling saga of the past meeting the present, told in the author’s distinctive voice.” JEFFERY DEAVER, international bestselling author of The Bone Collector, XO, The Kill Room and The October List.

“A haunting and fascinating first novel of a boy hidden in an attic room in a Carolina plantation home by a conspiring mother whose personal ambitions outweigh her love for her family.” PAT CONROY, bestselling author of The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, Beach Music and South of Broad.

“The Disappointment Room is a fast-paced novel infused with the Gullah culture, slavery, and politics in the antebellum South. A young boy from a plantation family is confined by his politically ambitious mother to a secret room in the house on Coffin Point Plantation. His quest for personal freedom parallels those of the slaves who travel with him on a difficult journey to freedom. A powerful debut from author Dee Phelps.” MARY ALICE MONROE, New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Girls.

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DEE PHELPS is an alumnus of The University of Pittsburgh and Wharton School of Nursing. Dee was inspired to write THE DISAPPOINTMENT ROOM as a result of fascinating and sometimes harrowing stories passed down from her ancestors, who once owned a Lowcountry cotton plantation near Beaufort, South Carolina. She is the author of the children’s book THE FLOWER IN THE THICKETS, written under the pen name, Marcella Miller. She has written numerous international travel articles for national magazines. A surgical nurse for over twenty-five years, Dee lives in Beaufort, South Carolina.