- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 17, 2008

Brace for some bipartisan touchy-feely.

The “Chicken Soup for the Soul” folks, known for their self-help books that push homespun inspiration, are seeking tales for — yes — “Chicken Soup for the Republican’s Soul” and “Chicken Soup for the Democrat’s Soul.”

“We’re not looking for dissertations or rhetoric. We’re looking for common experiences that examine the heart and soul of politics. Who inspired you to go Republican or Democrat? What issues mean something? We want to better the public discourse and add a human dimension to it,” said Theresa Peluso, spokeswoman for Florida-based HCI, which publishes the series.

The red-white-and-blue festooned volumes will be out in time for this summer’s political conventions.

“Well, this is an election year, so their timing is certainly right. And the idea of chicken soup sounds good right about now,” said John McNulty, a professor of politics at Binghampton University who specializes in voter behaviors and psychology.

“But the real question is this: Which book will sell more? That’s very telling about either party, and who knows? Maybe the sales figures will predict who will win the race for the White House,” Mr. McNulty added.

The parties will have an equal crack at spilling their guts. The publisher is soliciting stories from both sides, posing identical questions for both red and blue parties.

“Maybe there was a political speech that really inspired them, or a romance with a fellow Republican or Democrat. We want to hear what got them into the party — was it a rally, a protest? This is all about self-discovery,” said Ms. Peluso.

There is also a little money involved. The publisher is paying $200 for each first-person story that can wax poetic about political leanings in 1,000 words or less and is free of copyright issues. Political cartoons will fetch $100, poems $50.

Submissions will be accepted through March 15 for publication in July; interested writers can check out the Web Sites: www.republicansoul.com or www.democratsoul.com.

“These aren’t instant books, but please don’t procrastinate,” Ms. Peluso said, noting that personal accounts have been arriving for the past two weeks.

Naturally, she’s done her marketing homework.

“Barnes & Noble is already getting excited,” she added.

The Chicken Soup series has sold 100 million copies in the past 15 years. There are more than 170 titles in 40 languages — including editions for the respective souls of “American Idol” fans, beach lovers, coffee drinkers, fishermen, mothers, mothers and daughters, golfers, baseball fans and dog owners, to name just a few.

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