Simon Shenbetter's Seven Steps Series

because someone had to do it.

This is the first in a series of "Seven Steps" articles written under my favorite, and only, assumed name of Simon Shenbetter. The Seven Steps Series should end up with the following titles. Title one: The Seven Steps to Writing a Really Stupid Seven Steps Book. Title two: The Seven Steps to Avoiding Another Stupid Seven Steps Book. Title Three: The Seven Steps to Getting Away From The Seven Steps. Title Four: Why Not Just Three Steps? Why Take So Many Steps?

The Seven Steps to Writing a Really Stupid Seven Steps Book by Simon Shenbetter

In order to pen out seven steps to approach any particular subject, one must first come up with a bunch of steps. After the bunch of steps are derived, it is only a short process of merging some and ignoring others to tune the bunch down to seven.

After the seven are settled, it is a matter of bullet pointing each. Leave spaces between the bullets, because this is where the book will be inserted. Start out with a blatantly overused phrase or quote to set the stage of the chapter. There will be eight chapters. One will be to sum up everything, so plan on it being at the end.

After the plagiarized intro, be ready to regurgitate three inspiring stories about people you either know, have heard about, or have made up. Be sure to insert a favorite quote from each, double spaced, to use up some room on the pages as you move toward the next chapter, which is a repeat, as are the other five, as by the second chapter you will need five more prior to summing up, which, by the way, is really super easy because by then you can just plagiarize yourself.

Try to get the stories straight on the people you write about, as fact checks may occur after printing. To avoid ever being caught, it is advisable that you turn on your creative skills. Making up insignificant people is highly recommended, as it is impossible to verify insignificant people. Also remember to always use generalities. If your character is from a large city, never name it. It helps if they live a very transient lifestyle. If they went to college, make sure it was a city college or a state institution. But never name it. Use common surnames, like “Jones," “Smith," or “Hernandez." And by all means, avoid using first names. Just make up an initial for the first name, even if you cite a real person.

Find other authors who have written stupid seven steps books and solicit their endorsements. They will be happy to do this for a fee. Pay them with stuff, use of your significant other's body, gift cards, or wads of cash wrapped up tight so they feel like a lot. Promises of larger payouts can be made on future book royalties. Most authors will place little expectations on these promises. Your best motivator will be what you can offer them NOW, so make the initial bribe juicy.

If you self-publish, you will end up with a closet full of unsold books and a maxed out credit card. If you sign with a publisher you find through a random email or a search online for “book publishers," you will also end up with a maxed out credit card, but at least you will only have two or three complimentary paperback copies to shelve. Which will leave you more room in the closet. Which will mean you can go binge shopping for new clothes to make yourself feel better.

Which will lead to your next book, “The Seven Steps to Avoiding Binge Shopping," which you will convince yourself will be a hit.

©2014 Chris Plante

The Seven Steps to Living a Happy Life by Simon Shenbetter

The first step to living a happy life is to simply tell people that you are happy. They are not going to know for sure if you are or not, but they won't pry for fear of opening a Pandoras Box and then having to stand or sit somewhere they don't really want to be while you go off on them. So the chances are very good that if you tell people that you are happy - if they bother to ask - and say it with enough feeling that your emotions don't rat you out, people will just accept that you are happy. And that gives them something to say at the next party they find themselves at. "Oh," they can say while holding a martini by the pool, "I know someone who is very happy with their life." They can then sum up that world events are not as troubling as they might seem, or that the economy must be doing better than Fox News says it is. Because you are happy.

Step two is to live your life like a music video. Clean up your digs and get some curtains that blow lightly when you are smoking a joint or reading the front cover of a philosophy book. Play some na na na type music sung by a bunch of skinny hipster chicks backed by one guy strumming an acoustic guitar. Look around in slow motion and toss a few pics of yourself riding your favorite bicycle when you were five. Just leave the pics on the couch, coffee table, or counter. They will be keen reminders to your friends, if you have any, that you had a happy childhood. If you don't have any just download some and print them on some Kodak paper.

Step three is to spend lots of time in crowded coffee shops. Plant your iPad or phone close to your face and look busy. Stop occasionally to take a sip of your latte, even if it was empty an hour ago. If you can write, then write. If you can draw, then draw. If you don't have any creativity in you then scroll Facebook. Be that person who is always doing something. Have yourself interrupted with phone calls now and then. Just manually vibrate your phone and pick it up. No one will know that the other end of the line is dead.

Step four, five, and six is to repeat the process of steps one, two and three. It is rare that there are seven steps to anything. A repeating of steps, however, is more common. Your life is probably pretty dull and compromises little more than the action from the first three steps, anyway. And even if it is less dull than that, just applying at least one of the steps, the second for instance, will spice up whatever life outside of the mundane you might be lucky enough to enjoy.

And step seven is to get a personalized license plate for your car. It’s the ultimate in shallowness, If you don't have a car then at least get a sticker for your laptop. Or a weird little thingy that hangs from your keychain. Tell the world what you want it to know. Spread the happiness. Lie to them. It's what everyone is comfortable with, anyway.

©2015 Chris Plante