You may never need a garden gnome survival guide. Not if you are an urban dweller who varies her movements and activities every day, and who lives with an extended family and a large attack dog.
If, however, you live anywhere near a lawn or, worse, the woods, especially if you have ever seen a lawn ornament, beware. Garden gnomes are watching for routine patterns of your entrances and exits, waiting for their opportunity to invade your dwelling. They will even crawl up through heating vents and in through open windows.
The risks are terrifying. If you want to live, read How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (and They Will).
Author Chuck Sambuchino, by day an editor for Writer’s Digest, has put everything he knows about surviving garden gnome attacks into his guide.
Sambuchino knows a lot about survival guides, for he also writes the Guide to Literary Agents blog and regularly speaks at writer’s conferences around the country. I caught up with him in French Lick, Indiana, where he advised writers conference attendees on the highly coveted survival skill: How to Find an Agent.
The French Lick Springs Hotel, where the “Everybody Has a Story” conference took place, is surrounded by the tangled woods of southern Indiana. We knew the wild proximity was particularly dangerous terrain, so we began by scanning the lobby for signs of gnome creep, under settees and behind the fireplace wood rack, anyplace that might camouflage a lurking lawn warrior.
Side note useful to working children’s book writers: Once we knew we were safe, Sambuchino reverted to his role as a professional writing and publishing guide. He proceeded to coach me on the proper way to say Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators. (tip: Nobody says all the words in that professional association title. It’s ridiculously cumbersome and time consuming.) Instead, say the cumbersome but brief initialism “S.C.B.W.I.” I practiced stringing together those five letters all the way back home, sustained by the tongue twister advice I’d recently gotten from a recent GeekMom article, “Get Your Tongue Out of Whack”.
Back on the topic that’s relevant and, in fact, urgent for all: Sambuchino recommends preventative measures that will stop invading garden gnomes before they cross onto your property. In the chapter “Passive Fortification” he says, “Your first order of business is a comprehensive program of passive fortification. With traps and barriers, your goal is what military experts call area denial. ”
In what I believe to be the most useful chapter, “Ten Tips That Could Save Your Life,” Sambuchio urges us to keep counter tops clutter free. Gnomes are particularly adept at hiding in plain site.
The guide also includes gnomeproofing strategies, how to recognize nonverbal gnome communication, as well as essential gnomenclature.
As an expert in children’s books in particular and the use of genre classifications in the publishing industry at large, Sambuchino is very clear that his guide is NOT a children’s book. It is found in the non-fiction section of the book store. (Technically, in the humor section, but don’t let that distinction mislead you. Warrior gnomes are a real and growing threat.)
Side Note: Both my kids, ages 13 and 16 think the book is hilarious.
Geek Credentials: Sambuchino juggles a lot in his very full life. In addition to saving us from garden gnome attacks and helping authors find their way in the publishing world, by night he’s a musician for a Cincinnati-based rock cover band, One Not Taken. He credits his geek pedigree to the low brass music training of his teen years. He says, “Band Geeks Rule”.