The other morning, I came back from an early morning run, tired and needing to do more writing. Yet as I walked up to the house, I noticed a squirrel moving oddly. I watched the squirrel as it slowly and carefully made its way to our front yard. Where it promptly died.

While I’m rewriting my novel. Dead squirrel? Novel revision.

Repeat after me: This is not a metaphor for anything; this is not a metaphor for anything; this is not a metaphor for anything.

While it can be tempting to read signs into squirrels that choose to expire in front of you, I had to remind myself that sometimes a dead squirrel in your front yard is just a dead squirrel in your front yard. Or at least it is until your husband removes the dead squirrel and places it in your garbage can, in which case it’s nothing more than a dead squirrel in your garbage can.

So, dead squirrel gone, I went upstairs and finished my revision. Truth be told? I’m pretty damn pleased with it (both the revision and the fact that my husband disposed of the squirrel). My editor had some spot-on suggestions, and I took them and ran with them, and I think the novel is stronger for it. The novel is now back with my editor, continuing the journey to fully formed book. It is no longer in my hands (for the moment). Ahh, what a feeling of freedom! My husband made me a big ol’ bourbon drink, and I did a little revision dance (although I couldn’t get either of my children to do it with me. In fact, I believe one of them muttered, “You’re only embarrassing yourself here, Mom”).

What makes this feel so odd is that while I know my novel is still a manuscript, it’s now out in the world for preorder. Crazy, isn’t it? The book won’t hit doorsteps and stores until April 5, but it’s orderable today: | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

How’s that for nerve wracking?

I’m also out in the world (or rather the Internet, though if you ask my 12 year old, those two things are one and the same) in other places:

Things are good, right? Now I can face that e-mail from my agent that reads, “So where’s the next novel?”

Except not two days later, my daughter came running in. “There’s a dead something in the front yard!” We all ran out, the neighbors gathered, and we peered at the thing on lawn, and sure enough, a dead baby squirrel lay there.

Not a metaphor. Not a metaphor. Not a metaphor.