With a new book coming out in fifteen days (not that I'm counting), and a fourteen-city tour looming, a reader writes: are you bringing the baby, or what?

Answer: sort of.

The longest I've ever been away from the baby was two nights last month, when I was in New York recording the audio version of LITTLE EARTHQUAKES and she was being cared for by my mother and five of my mother's closest friends.

Parts of the tour have me away for ten days at a time, which I think is way too long to go without seeing the girl.

But after last spring's debacle, where I brought her to a speaking engagement and wound up stuck on a dais, sandwiched between a Holocaust survivor and a woman who'd self-published her memoirs, while Lucy got increasingly fussy and the audience members got increasingly unhappy about it, there's no way I'd ever subject her to a reading (or subject anyone who came to a reading to an unhappy baby).

So for the east coast parts of the tour, Lucy will be at home, cared for by a combination of Dad, nanny, and grandmothers.

On the west coast, I'll have an entourage.

Or, really, Lucy will have an entourage: my Mom, my sister, my agent and me. I think between the four of us we'll manage to keep her happy, and get me to the bookstores on time.

At least, that's what I'm hoping. Honestly, though, even if she refuses to sleep in any foreign hotel cribs and is a crank monster on the airplanes, I figure it's got to be better than the tour for IN HER SHOES, during which I was pregnant, and felt like crap ninety percent of the time.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying The Matzo Ball Heiress, which is a perfect end-of-summer beach read, and enjoying Lucy, who just learned how to say "meatball." (Meebah!)