Sapling Interview – Xi Draconis Books

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This week Sapling talks with Patrick Barney, Xi Draconis Books.   *    Sapling: What should people know who may not be familiar with Xi Draconis Books?   Patrick Barney: Xi Draconis Books is an independent press that seeks to publish socially-conscious, book-length works of fiction, literary nonfiction, and poetry. We are currently still seeking creative nonfiction for our 2018 production year.     Sapling: How did your name come about?   PB: Xi Draconis is a star in the constellation Draco, and Draco was a great serpent that battled the Olympian gods for ten years. The gods, while much like human beings, have significantly more power, and so this leads them to commit all sorts of crimes. Murder, genocide, rape, torture. Pretty much any terrible act a human can do, the gods do on a grander scale. So the name is a metaphor for rebellion against social injustice. We should adopt Draco’s war against the gods.   Sapling: What do you pay close attention to when reading submissions? Any deal breakers?   PB: Well, I like to be drawn in from the very beginning of a work. Writers really only have a couple pages to make a reader interested, and I’m no different. I try to be a conscientious person, so I’ll probably read way past the point of disinterest, even though I’ve already got a good idea that a work isn’t for me.   I’m also very, very conscious of sentence-level issues and really hate ready-made phrases and clichés. For my part, writing, whether prose or poetry, should do something stylistically interesting, and ready-made phrases quickly tell me that nothing interesting is happening on the sentence-level.   In addition, I believe a work should have a clear and obvious theme, not just subject matter. So (if I can get away with a little bit of explanation), subject matter is simple: a work deals with love, or hatred, or technology. A theme, on the other hand, is a specific position on that subject matter. For example, our upcoming publication In Some Sense Innocent deals with the subject of sex crime, and takes the position that our traditional responses to it (hatred, repulsion, punishment), while understandable, might not be our best methods of curbing it. Often, I read work that is stylistically interesting but never comes together on the thematic level, and I’m really looking for both qualities before I say yes to a manuscript.     Sapling: Where do you imagine Xi Draconis Books to be headed over the next couple years? What’s on the horizon?   PB: Well, 2018 is our first production year, so my short-term goal is to simply build up a really good list of initial titles. After this first year, I’d like to secure a distribution deal with Small Press Distribution or Consortium. I’d also like to establish relationships with college English departments so that I can have a good avenue for our authors to do readings. (I’m currently planning a reading for Hans Burger, the author of In Some Sense Innocent, at the University of Cincinnati.)  In general, I’d like to build up a good reputation for the press so that Xi Draconis is seen in the literary world as an excellent place for emerging writers to get their start.   Sapling: As an editor, what is the hardest part of your job? The best part?   PB: The best part is clicking with a manuscript, sending the acceptance letter, and working with the author to mold her book into the best shape possible. The hardest part, so far, is saying no to those works that are excellent but just not quite right for the press.   Sapling: If you were stranded on a desert island for a week with only three books which books would you want to have with you?   PB: George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, Robert Fitzgerald’s translation of The Odyssey, Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility   Sapling: Just for fun (because we like fun and the number three) if Xi Draconis Books was a person what three things would it be thinking about obsessively?  

PB: Death metal, coffee, and revenge. 


Visual Art – Xi Draconis Books

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Hsiang II by Catherine E. Skinner

Binary IV by Catherine E. Skinner

Artist’s Statement:

Marking is a method that has always been used by man and animals to indicate their presence, to feel a part of place, and to let others know they were there. Our cultural memory lies within the physicality of place.

Over the past ten years, my work has focused on ways to mark sacred space and how this is defined by various peoples around the world. My solo shows have combined paintings, sculptures, and installations that honor the environment created by my work within the gallery. The viewer is there to connect the energies of the work within the space.

Within this body of work, I often use the repetition of the number 108, which is gya gye in Tibetan. This number has powerful meanings. The sum of the three digits adds up to 9, which is one of the spiritual numbers. Ancient cultures believe that humans tell 108 lies, have 108 earthly desires, and 108 forms of delusion. It is also said there are 108 feelings, with 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related to the future. The 1 in 108 stands for God or higher Truth, the 0 for emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice, and the 8 for infinity or eternity.

Repetition allows for focus and perseverance; it takes time and hopefully leads to an inner center. Whatever the use of repetition, spiritual or artistic, there is a dissolution of the self into the whole. Energy is concentrated by the continuous reiteration of the same path, the same pattern, the same practice.

Work of the Marking Code series pursues a deep investigation of the symbolic number 108, sacred to several Eastern religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Structured through a variety of counting systems, from primitive tally marks and I Ching notations to binary coding, they encompass the 108 count and encoding of “one hundred eight.” Counting and measuring have been our way to order the disorder around us, from drawing in the sand to codes delivering instant information. Employing the medium of oil and encaustic on panel, the work explores numerological systems from around our world alongside present-day computer codes.

These encryptions are developed into complex patterns, yielding abstractions evocative of ancient textiles, wall graffiti, and partially erased blackboards. Using a wide array of gestures, from delicate tracery to incising with a stick, there are single strokes of large antique sumi brushes to finger marks dragging paints across the paint surface. Each piece becomes its own offering to the basic elements of our natural systems, a modern mandala with new possibilities.

Tao generates one. One generates two, two generates three. Three generates all things.
Lao Tsu

Surface Tension by Cynthia Yatchman


Visual Art Submissions – Xi Draconis Books

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We seek visual art for two purposes: for book covers, and for publishing on our website and social media feeds.

Submit visual artwork for book covers as a jpg or png attachment with a resolution of at least 300ppi at 6″ X 9″ to xidraconissubmit@gmail.com. Please include “submission: visual artwork for book cover” in the subject line.

Give us six months to reply for book cover submissions. Whether your work is selected will depend on whether it fits the content of the books we’re publishing during our production year and on the author’s tastes.

If your work is selected, you will receive $100 and two copies of the book on which your artwork appears. We’d like to offer more, but we’re barely able to afford this meager compensation.

Submit visual artwork for the website as a jpg or png attachment with a resolution of at least 300ppi to xidraconissubmit@gmail.com. If you’d like your submission to be considered for the banner on our website for a three-month period, then please submit work with a wide aspect ratio.

Give us six weeks to respond. We are unable to pay for website and social media submissions.

Before submitting, please read this statement of contributor rights.


Book Review Submissions – Xi Draconis Books

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Xi Draconis Books is seeking book reviews to publish on the website and to liven up its email newsletter.

We’re open to reviews of book-length works of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.

In addition, reviewed books should have some social justice component.

Reviews should not exceed 500 words.

Send these as a Word attachment to xidraconissubmit@gmail.com. Include “book review submission” in the subject line.

Please give us six weeks to respond.

In addition, if you are a writer and would like your book reviewed on our website, our newsletter, or on our podcast, send a query to xidraconisbooks@gmail.com. You’ll need to provide one print copy to the editor for a website or email review and three copies for consideration on the podcast. Include “book for review” in the subject line.

We look forward to seeing your work!


2017 – Xi Draconis Books

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14 December 2017
Black Lawrence Press will run a short feature on Xi Draconis Books in its weekly e-newsletter, Sapling Blog, on 8 January 2018. The feature will showcase an interview with Xi Draconis editor-in-chief, Patrick Barney. Head over here to purchase a subscription, or, if you’re patient, this website will post the feature on 22 January 2018.

7 December 2017
Check out an excerpt from Hans Burger’s In Some Sense Innocent here.

6 November 2017
We’ve conducted a video interview with Hans Burger, author of In Some Sense Innocent, the first publication of Xi Draconis Books. Check it out to get a deeper sense of the issues that Mr. Burger’s novel addresses, and (for potential submitters) of the tastes of Patrick Barney, editor-in-chief.

26 October 2017
Pre-orders of In Some Sense Innocent are available now! Copies will ship 7 January 2018. Head to the Books page to reserve your copy.

25 October 2017
Check out the cover design for Hans Burger’s novel In Some Sense Innocent:

The release date for the print version of the book is 7 January 2018. Digital copies will be available for purchase two months later.


Xi Draconis Books is excited to announce the upcoming release, in January 2018, of its first publication, Hans Burger’s novel In Some Sense Innocent.

In the tradition of Russell Banks and Mary Gaitskill, In Some Sense Innocent is a poignant and blackly funny story about isolation, despair, and redemption. It attempts to understand the intersection of sex and technology, one of the main pathologies of our age.

Twenty-three-year old Mark lives with his great-aunt in a retirement community, recovering from a troubled adolescence and a period of homelessness. He struggles to find a sense of purpose, counseling for a crisis hotline and assisting with the rehabilitation of sex offenders. When he meets Amanda, a single mother fleeing a violent ex, their relationship becomes the focal point of his life. But the suicide of one of Mark’s clients sets off a chain of events which threatens his newfound happiness. To keep his new life, he must find a way to overcome the psychic fallout of Amanda’s past, a friend’s betrayal, and the shadow of his own mistakes.

Hans Burger has a combined MA/MFA in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He lives in the Seattle-Tacoma area of Washington state.

Cover art to follow soon!


2018 – Xi Draconis Books

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30 November 2018
The God Setebos #7: On W. Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage

23 November 2018
The God Setebos #6: On Frank Herbert’s Dune and Scientific Facism

16 November 2018
The God Setebos #5: On Jude the Obscure with Author Hans Burger

31 October 2018
The God Setebos #4: On Moby Dick

23 October 2018
Another episode of The God Setebos, this one on poetry. Check it out here. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

15 October 2018
Episode two of The God Setebos podcast is live. Check it out here.

8 October 2018
Check out the first episode of the editor’s new podcast, The God Setebos, here.

5 October 2018
Check out these awesome pics, taken by the author!

6 September 2018
Big news: from now on, any person who wishes to read one of our publications may do so free of charge. We have long felt that putting a price tag on our books, no matter our mission statement, has contributed to commodification and capitalist hierarchy.

To receive complimentary copies of our books, head over to our Subscribe page and provide your name, email address, and mailing address. We’ll send your books within two days.

Special thanks to everyone who has purchased a book from us previously. We really appreciate your support.

Those who wish to do so may still support the press through our Donate page or through the editor’s Patreon profile.

4 September 2018
We’re super excited to release an excerpt from Izzy Oneiric’s lyric memoir, The Year Is Sunday, which is coming out 1 October 2018. Head over here to check it out.

1 September 2018
The editor has created a Patreon profile so that supporters may offer monthly pledges to help the press meet its budget needs. Head over here to check it out.

23 August 2018
We are excited to announce the inaugural series of contests for our new anthology Setebos. Beginning 1 September 2018, contestants may submit works in any of four categories: short fiction, short nonfiction, poetry, and visual art. The winners in each of the written categories will receive $500, publication in Setebos, and two copies of the anthology. The winner in the visual art category will receive $500, two author copies, and have her art featured on the cover of the anthology. The finalists in each category will receive publication and two author copies. Each contestant will receive one copy of Setebos, the first volume of which will appear in early to mid 2019. Please head over to our contest guidelines page for detailed information on the quality of work we’re looking for and how to submit. The contests have an entry fee of $20.

22 August 2018
Be sure to check out our interview with the author of The Year Is Sunday, Izzy Oneiric.

31 July 2018
Today is the final day of our open submission period for the 2019 production year. Thank you so much to everyone who sent in a manuscript. We’ll have responses to you over the next three or four months.

We’d also like to give special thanks to all the visual artists who have submitted their work. We’re really happy to get such a large number of strong pieces. What gets chosen will depend on the books we accept, so please bear with us.

1 July 2018
We’re excited to announce our next publication, Izzy Oneiric’s The Year Is Sunday, a lyric memoir, which will be released in trade paperback and ebook formats on 1 October 2018.

In the spirit of Claudia Rankine and Eula Biss, The Year Is Sunday is a surreal meditation on a matriarch’s dementia and the vicissitudes of language, memory, identity, and family. Told through the black-rimmed eyes of an aging goth against the backdrop of an incessant television and broken health care system, The Year Is Sunday explores a family’s attempt to maintain normalcy in opposition to death.

The renowned Arielle Greenberg, author of Slice and several other poetry collections, says, “In Izzy Oneiric’s capable and unsentimental paws, the experience of family-of-origin weirdness revisited and reviewed upon one’s return home in adulthood is transformed into spare gems, little punk-rock pyramid studs along the lapel of a jacket worn by a tough and compassionate survivor. In The Year is Sunday, Oneiric coins the term ‘alta vu’ for ‘eavesdropping on memories that never happened,’ and, faced with their (grand)mother’s end of life, this is what they document: eavesdropping that leads to fearless questions, choices made and circumstances lived through. ‘I want to rescue all of it,’ Oneiric writes, and in recording the tiny and uncanny details woven through difficult experience—what’s on TV, what was in last night’s dream—they do just that.”

Izzy Oneiric holds an MFA in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago. Their work has appeared in numerous publications, including PoetryWTF?!, Source Material, Plath Profiles, and Phantom Limb. They are the author of the chapbook From the Bombshell Shelter (Main Street Rag, 2010) and the full-length collection Crossing Bryan Ferry and Other Poems (Lavender Ink Press, 2016). Izzy currently lives in New Orleans and is an Event Coordinator for the New Orleans Poetry Festival.

Check out the book’s cover design:

The ability to pre-order Izzy’s book will appear soon. Come back in a month to see a video interview with Izzy, conducted by the editor.

27 June 2018
It’s official: Xi Draconis Books is headed to Portland, Oregon for the AWP conference in March 2019. We’ll offer our publications (which will number four by then) at an exhibit at the bookfair. If you stop by, you’ll have a chance to meet three of our authors. Stay alert for more news on this front.

14 June 2018
We’re happy to share the news that we’ve become a part of the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), which we’re pretty excited about. Its resources and databases have helped us compile a few more links to micro presses. The next time you feel like reading a book, rather than going to one of those chain stores that promote capitalist hierarchy, we suggest finding a book through one of the presses on our List of Micro Presses page.

30 May 2018
We’d like to offer one final thank you to those Kickstarter sponsors who donated $100 or more to fund our 2019 production year: Delphi Psmith, Guest 765990823, Rebecca Barney, Tad Barney, and John Barney. Again, thank you so much!

22 May 2018
We’ve decided that we want to strengthen the micro-press community by compiling a list of links to all literary micro presses publishing in English. Please head over to our List of Micro Presses page to discover new presses or to notify the editor of a press that hasn’t been listed yet.

14 May 2018
Our Kickstarter project to raise funds for the 2019 production year has been successful. Thank you to everyone who donated. You can check out the project details here.

28 April 2018
We’re happy to provide an update on our Kickstarter project. With half the project time remaining, we’ve raised just over half the funding required to help us through 2019 ($525). Thank you so much to everyone who has pledged to help us out during 2019. We encourage anyone who hasn’t checked out our project to head over here to pledge. Again, thank you all for your support. It looks like we’re going to get there!

13 April 2018
We’ve decided to start a Kickstarter project to help fund our 2019 production year. If you’re interested in supporting the press, but don’t have the sixteen or eighteen bucks to purchase a copy of one of our books, then you can go here to pledge three, four, or five dollars. You can also pledge more to receive rewards (copies of our publications, a chance for a video interview with the editor, a sponsorship listing, etc.). The project runs from 13 April to 12 May, with a goal of raising $1000. We appreciate your support.

3 April 2018
We have three new announcements. First, we’ve decided to push the release date of The American Book of the Dead forward to 1 May 2018 (instead of 7 May). This coincides with the beginning of our open reading period. Additionally, rather than releasing each book digitally a month later, digital and print publication dates will coincide. So, on 1 May, The American Book of the Dead will be available in both versions. Last, and most important, go here to read an excerpt from Joseph D. Reich’s excellent poem.

17 March 2018
We had to chug through some irritating technical difficulties, but Hans Burger’s reading was a success, with an excellent selection from his novel In Some Sense Innocent and some intriguing questions from the audience. Check it out here.

14 March 2018
Head over to our Author Interviews page to see what Joseph D. Reich has to say about his upcoming publication The American Book of the Dead.

7 March 2018
Hans Burger’s novel In Some Sense Innocent is now available on a variety of eBook platforms for only $5.95. Go over to our Books page to place your order.

21 February 2018
The American Book of the Dead is now available for pre-order. Head over to our Books page to reserve your copy.

16 February 2018
Here’s the cover design of our upcoming publication The American Book of the Dead by Joseph D. Reich.

Pre-orders of Mr. Reich’s epic poem will be available soon. Check back for updates.

7 February 2018
We’re pleased to announce the next publication of Xi Draconis Books, The American Book of the Dead by Joseph D. Reich. The American Book of the Dead is an epic poem, a manifesto full of guts and gusto for all long-lost souls on the road, a pamphlet of promise for the poverty-stricken and those put out for no particular reason, a postmodern sociological study, written in satire in the year of 2018, on a country who’s lost its individuality and identity, in five acts of stream-of-consciousness. The Hungry Chimera has called it “brutal and mesmerizing,” while Edify Fiction proclaims that it “assaults and assuages the senses.”

The official release date is 7 May 2018. The cover design and pre-orders will be available soon.

Joseph D. Reich is a social worker who lives with his wife and thirteen year old son in the high-up mountains of Vermont. He has been published in a wide variety of eclectic literary journals both here and abroad, been nominated seven times for The Pushcart Prize, and his books in poetry and cultural studies include “If I Told You To Jump Off The Brooklyn Bridge” (Flutter Press), “Pain Diary: Working Methadone & The Life & Times Of The Man Sawed In Half” (Brick Road Poetry Press), “Drugstore Sushi” (Thunderclap Press), “The Derivation Of Cowboys & Indians” (Fomite Press), “The Housing Market: a comfortable place to jump off the end of the world” (Fomite Press), “The Hole That Runs Through Utopia” (Fomite Press), “Connecting The Dots To Shangrila: A Postmodern Cultural Hx Of America” (Fomite Press), “Taking The Fifth And Running With It: a psychological guide for the hard of hearing and blind” (Broadstone Books), “The Rituals Of Mummification (Sagging Meniscus Press), “Magritte’s Missing Murals: Insomniac Episodes” (Sagging Meniscus Press), “How To Order Chinese During A Hostage Crisis: Dialects, Existential Essays, A Play, And Other Poems” (Hog Press), and “A Psychological Hx Of Charles Atlas” (Angry Old Man Press).

4 February 2018
Check out the first in our new series of video blogs here.

29 January 2018
For those interested, check out the editor’s interview with Sapling here.

26 January 2018
We’re happy to announce Hans Burger’s upcoming virutal reading at the University of Cincinnati. The reading will take place on 16 March 2018, from 5:30pm to 6:30pm, in McMicken 205. If you live anywhere near Cincinnati, set the date aside for an evening of intellectual stimulation. The reading will feature an excerpt from Mr. Burger’s novel and a question and answer session afterwards. You can also meet Xi Draconis’ editor-in-chief, Patrick Barney, and purchase books from our line up. Light refreshments will be provided and anybody who wants may join the editor and his wife for dinner afterward. We hope to see you there.

7 January 2018
It’s official: the release date for In Some Sense Innocent has arrived. Go to our Books page to get your copy.