Deborah C Dooley
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.

Entries by Deborah C Dooley

The Sound of Gerard

(0) Comments | Posted 29 April 2014 | (11:59)

David Beckham is undeniably gorgeous. But for me, the second he begins to speak, that gorgeousness becomes a distant memory. Conversely, Gerard Depardieu does not, perhaps, immediately strike one as conventionally appealing. But the minute he opens his mouth - quel delight! Personally I am nothing less than captivated by...

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Proper Job

(0) Comments | Posted 10 April 2014 | (09:05)

I have never had one of these. A proper job, I mean.
If I was writing this piece for the Daily Mail, an opener like this would immediately provoke howls of derision, liberally laced with the imaginative terms 'benefit scrounger' and 'state handouts'. Righteous (and right wing) readers would...

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Me and My Grandmother

(0) Comments | Posted 20 March 2014 | (17:10)

Sometimes I think I may be turning into my grandmother.
I remember very well how, having flagged down a taxi, she would think nothing of rejecting it if the driver neglected to jump out and open the door for her. I also recall her propensity to abandon a heap...

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Mrs Miss or Ms

(0) Comments | Posted 12 February 2014 | (09:54)

The young policeman stared at me.
'Are you married or not?' he demanded. The irritation in his tone was catching and my own voice was a tad prickly as I told him that was none of his business.
I'm all for being honest and upfront, and...

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Giving and Glowing

(0) Comments | Posted 4 October 2013 | (12:01)

I adore listening to the Archers - primarily because it's entertaining and the episodes are very short. I am especially fond of the one liners that trip so easily from the tongues of the characters. And one of the best of these was uttered recently by Darrell, (who is now...

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Discovering Hope

(0) Comments | Posted 17 July 2013 | (12:15)

Only his feet were left, abandoned by their predator, in the grass. I felt sad as I looked at them, remembering his loud and frequent voice, now hushed for ever. Gingerly I picked up the dismembered limbs, fighting nausea. How could this have happened? I wondered. We'd been so sure...

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A Way With Words

(0) Comments | Posted 8 July 2013 | (16:38)

Bland is one of those words that has its own taste. Saying it releases a mouthful of tapioca like sensation, thick on the tongue, fat with its one dull syllable. Bland is also the word used by one person to describe my last blog post. Bland, I mused, as I...

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Heart Attack Help in A and E

(1) Comments | Posted 18 June 2013 | (11:59)

'My husband's having a heart attack! Somebody help!'

Words guaranteed to make anyone in the immediate vicinity either administer some kind of medical aid or grab the nearest handset to summon it. Or so you'd think. But the distressed woman's plea for help went largely unanswered - something made...

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A Face That Fits

(3) Comments | Posted 28 May 2013 | (15:54)

I first became aware that my face doesn't fit when I was writing a weekly column for a women's magazine that At first the editorial team tolerated the rather amateurish snap that I had provided for my picture byline. Then I got a phone call.

'We need you to...

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Leaden in Devon

(0) Comments | Posted 16 May 2013 | (11:36)

Legs like lead, said the annoying voice inside my head. It made a change from that catchy song currently being played on every music station in the land, so I went with it.

'Legs like lead, legs like lead,' I panted, like a sort of tortured mantra, as I...

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Writing Space

(0) Comments | Posted 7 May 2013 | (15:57)

How can I possibly spend so much money on myself?' she wailed. 'It feels so self indulgent.'
I sighed, putting my hand over the receiver so that she couldn't hear. I'd heard this line of thinking many times before and I knew what was coming next.


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Food for Thought

(0) Comments | Posted 17 March 2013 | (08:58)

We sat in the kitchen for our writerly discussion. He held a sheaf of A4 paper, covered in typescript while I was armed with my favourite pen and my kitchen reading glasses. I slid them onto my nose, squinting around the scratches and food smudges. Two mugs of tea and...

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An Appetite for Words

(0) Comments | Posted 7 March 2013 | (14:07)

'L'appetit vient en mangeant,' said a wise French person once. This tasty little sentence translates very smoothly into 'Appetite comes with eating,' and although I don't know who made it famous, I do know that this is one of those sayings that will always hold true.
It applies...

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Wine in a small village.

(0) Comments | Posted 8 February 2013 | (15:25)

The man behind the counter was clearly uncomfortable with my request. I waited politely while he moved some papers around on the counter of the small village shop. Moving 250 miles in one day was thirsty work and I was keen to put my feet up on a packing crate...

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Board in Devon

(0) Comments | Posted 4 February 2013 | (10:28)

There can be few things more pleasant in this life than reclining on a beautiful beach, and surveying white crested waves dotted with those black shiny suited acrobats of the sea.
Not dolphins. Surfers.

Surfing is one of Devon's greatest lures. Its glorious coastline produces some of...

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Pasty Power

(0) Comments | Posted 18 January 2013 | (15:58)

Pasties are like politicians. You can never be sure what lies beneath their smooth exterior. But while the perfect politician almost certainly doesn't exist, the perfect pasty - a joyful and succulent combination of locally grown potato onion and swede, moistly combined with best quality meat and a soupcon of...

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A Devilish Place

(0) Comments | Posted 9 January 2013 | (16:40)

What better place to walk than on the hills and valleys of Dartmoor? Beside bubbling brooks crisscrossed with stepping stones and flanked with miniature ponies who blink from beneath their heavy fringes. Over green mossed, golden gorse laden slopes and wild landscape laden with the seductive promise of yet more...

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Eating Writing

(0) Comments | Posted 19 December 2012 | (08:42)

I can't eat my novel.

But sometimes I feel as if I could, so much do I love it.

I can taste the groups of words, lovingly constructed into sentences and paragraphs, and reading them aloud brings a satisfaction akin to savouring an especially tasty mouthful of food....

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Angry Writing

(0) Comments | Posted 12 December 2012 | (16:54)

There's a lot of anger around.
You can see it in all kinds of different places. The bleeding head of a footballer attacked by a fan from the rival team. The overreaction of a driver when someone takes the parking space they saw as rightfully theirs. The comments at...

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The Brilliant, the Average and the Blocked

(0) Comments | Posted 5 December 2012 | (15:25)

Writer's block. A pretentious term coined by those who can't be bothered to write.

I realise that in committing those words to print, I am running the risk of a kind of literary fatwa.

Even as I type, I imagine myself being hounded and heckled by hordes of frustrated...

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