Author and astrologer, Hazel Dixon-Cooper, visits Writers Inspired today bearing gifts! Three times the prizes and three times the fun, Hazel is graciously donating three books from her ROTTEN DAY series Work on a Rotten Day, Born on a Rotten Day and Love on a Rotten Day.
Hazel Dixon-Cooper has been a professional astrologer for more than twenty-five years, and is the author of the internationally bestselling Rotten Day astrology book series.
She writes the daily horoscopes for Cosmopolitan.com, Cosmo Mobile for your cell phone, and a weekly horoscope for Cosmo Radio: Sirius channel 111 and XM channel 162.
She is a research member of the American Federation of Astrologers and teaches astrology workshops. She can be reached by email by clicking here
Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell
MJC: Tell us about your background in astrology: when did you get your “sign” that this was the career for you? Any formal training/classes?
HDC: Thank you, Mary Jo, for asking me to visit Writers Inspired.
I’ve been interested in astrology since I was a teen. I read every astrology how-to book I could find and began to cast charts for friends and relatives. Later, I studied astrology through the American Federation of Astrologers.
MJC: You write the horoscopes for the Magazine Motherload for women: Cosmopolitan! How did you hook up with Cosmo? And did this job lead you to writing and publishing your Rotten Day series books?
HDC: Actually, it was the other way around. My publicist at Simon & Schuster sent a copy of my first book, BORN ON A ROTTEN DAY, to Cosmo’s book editor for a possible review in the magazine. I didn’t get the review. However, he was looking for a new astrology writer, liked my writing style, and invited me to audition for the column. It was perfect timing. And, yes, it was in my stars. My chart for that time period indicated a huge turning point in my career.
My first column was May, 2003 and my final print column was in the January, 2010 issue. I will continue to write the online daily horoscopes for Cosmopolitan.com, which are also available through Cosmo Mobile, their cell phone product. I also write a weekly horoscope for Cosmo Radio, Sirius/XM.
MJC: Your Rotten Day series books are known for no holds-barred advice and a heaping dose of humor. Can you share with us the stages of your writing project? Take us through the idea and planning, drafting and revising and, finally, the publishing and promoting stages.
HDC: The idea for BORN ON A ROTTEN DAY grew out of a weekly horoscope I was writing for a local news magazine. It had the same humorously skewed perspective and had received good feedback from readers. One day, my friend Bonnie Hearn Hill and I were brainstorming and the idea popped into my head. What if I wrote an astrology book? But instead of from the usual naval-gazing, “you’re so great,” perspective, it would be from the “you’re rotten and so is everyone you know” angle? I was attending Bonnie’s writing workshop at the time and she helped me put together a killer proposal that landed my first two-book deal.
From idea to published book is a long process. On average it takes 12 to 18 months from the time the deal’s made until the book reaches the book stores. The Rotten Day series books are approximately 55,000 words each and a typical timeframe begins with a four-to-six month deadline to write the manuscript. Each editor is different. Some want to see chapters as the work progresses and some let you write the entire manuscript first. I’ve written both ways.
After it’s delivered to the acquiring editor, he or she makes edits and suggestions then returns the manuscript to the author for revisions and/or comments. Next, the copyeditor line edits it for grammar, punctuation, and also checks the accuracy of quotes, and various facts. Then it’s back to the author for a final look to approve the corrections.
While this process is going on, sales, marketing, and publicity kick into gear, cover art is designed, and a release date is set. Each step has a deadline. It’s like being on a conveyor belt and each area has to do its part to get the finished book out on time. It’s critical that the author meets every deadline. Turning in a late manuscript or revisions can delay publication by months. You have to remember that yours is one of many books in this process and you don’t want to be sent to the end of the publishing line by missing a deadline.
In today’s economy, publishers have smaller PR budgets and fewer staff. Authors must be willing to self-promote to help their books succeed. The blog tour is becoming hot. This is a faster and easier way to reach potentially huge audiences than hitting the road on an old fashioned book tour. Social networking is crucial. Author websites, FaceBook fan pages, and Twitter, are a few examples. My publishers have set up radio tours for me, which are my favorite. I love to talk to people and radio is easy and fun.
MJC: How can writers benefit from knowing and following their astrological sign?
HDC: Knowing your Sun sign is helpful in understanding how your creative processes work, plus any possible obstacles you’d face during the creative process. I’m a Pisces and I can be a procrastinator, which is a challenging trait of a Pisces Sun. I know I work better on a deadline so I try to set daily goals to keep myself on track. Learning about your astrological sign can help you be aware of its common strengths and weaknesses.
Of course not every Fish procrastinates, just as not every Aries Ram is wildly impulsive, or Taurus Bull, judgmental. You are much more than your Sun sign and the best way to learn about you is to have a professional consultation. Your natal chart is a map of your unique individuality. Astrology is a wonderful self-knowledge tool that helps you discover your hidden potential and understand your specific talents and challenges.
In fiction, knowing the signs of your characters can help bring them to life. I think Scarlett O’Hara was an Aries, maybe with a Leo Moon. She was hot-tempered, loved the spotlight, and had the inner strength and bad-girl traits of both of those signs.
When Bonnie developed her idea for her wildly popular new YA series, Star-Crossed, the first thing she did was figure out each character’s Sun sign. Plus, she’s a multi-tasking and multi-talented double Gemini, who’s always eager to try something new as she’s proven by writing in several genres as well as nonfiction.
MJC: I’m intrigued by how other writers and creative souls organize their space. Can you describe your work area for us?
HDC: My desk is glass, L-shaped and sits next to a large window that overlooks my rose garden. At the moment, it’s crowded with papers, notes, assorted astrology books, and my cat who is sleeping on his corner.
MJC: You teach astrology classes. What tips can you offer teachers trying to make a connection with their students?
HDC: Remember their names. Remember what it felt like when you were a student. Smile. Make it fun. As long as you’re half an I.Q. point ahead of the group, you’re doing okay.
MJC: Tell us what’s next in your writing projects and events!
HDC: I’ve just finished a proposal for another astrology book, my first one outside the Rotten Day series. I’m setting up a blog tour and recently launched my new website www.hazeldixoncooper.com.
Thank you, Hazel, for visiting with us today! Remember to leave your comment or question for Hazel for a chance to win one of her three latest books!
To learn more about Hazel Dixon-Cooper and her books, please visit her site and Facebook page: