Deborah C Dooley Journalist and owner of a writer's' retreat.

I came to journalism late, having spent my twenties combining motherhood with being a teacher of aerobics. When my third child was a year old, I began submitting ideas for features with some success, and within a year, I was working two days a week at Woman’s Own and Woman’s Realm.

In 1995, a move to North Devon made travelling to London impractical, and since then I have carved out a successful career as a freelance journalist. I have tended to specialise in health and particularly alternative health, but also write relationship features and real life stories and I have built up a wide range of contacts, especially in the world of health and medicine. I have always been especially interested in alternative health, having seen the benefits of its use within my own family.

I’ve written for all the national papers, and all the weekly and monthly women’s magazines, as well as Mother and Baby, Shape, Here’s Health, Health and Fitness, Pharmacy magazine and Pharmacy Business magazine. I was health editor for Woman’s Own magazine, on a freelance basis, from April ’97 to February ’98 and have been a regular contributor to the health and features sections of the Daily Mail, The Daily Express and The Times. I wrote a weekly alternative health column for Woman’s Weekly for four years, and alternative health information cards for a publishing company called Craft Plus, for several months. I was also responsible for the health pages for Love it! magazine, which involved sourcing and writing health stories, collating snippets of health information, and editing a regular contribution from the resident doctor. I regularly write for Femail, on the Daily Mail.

I ghosted on ‘Yogalates, total body toner’, a book by exercise expert Louise Solomon, and (like most journalists), I am currently writing a novel. I have also tutored on residential writing courses (on journalism) at The Arvon Foundation.

Most recently I have launched a writing retreat, from my house in a small Devon village, providing space and support for other writers, and I also offer one to one creative writing workshops, and online tuition. Running Retreats for you has also enabled me to indulge my love of cooking. I provide three meals a day for our writers in residence, which are always well received, plus goodly amounts of banana bread, flapjacks and other homemade treats.

Living in North Devon has enabled me – and my family, to indulge our passion for being near the sea. Often, especially when the children visit, we all go off to one of the glorious beaches nearby, for a barbecue and a swim – even in the winter. I’ve discovered that visiting writers to our retreat share our love of the coast. And also that one of the best remedies for writer’s block is to watch a sunset over the waves, while drinking a glass of good wine.

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