Last week, I was speaking in Charlotte, when someobdy asked the inevitable how-has-your-life-changed question.

I answered that it hasn't changed all that much. Certainly not in a Dan Brown kind of way, where I can't leave my house or fly commercial for fear of getting mobbed. I live in the same neighborhood, I said. I hang out with the same people. I take care of my baby in the morning, and I write in the afternoons, and...

The woman who'd asked the question was looking skeptical. Clearly, this wasn't what she was hoping to hear. I wasn't sure exactly what she wanted to hear. That I bought my own island? Or a diamond-encrusted carseat?

She tried again. "Well, you don't seem very materialistic..."

I looked down at myself sadly. "But I'm wearing my nice clothes!"

I get that question all the time, and I'm never sure what to say. On the one hand, my life has changed tremendously -- as a rule, novelists whose books sell well make more money than newspaper reporters. Money gives you the luxury of time, of being able to quit your day job and devote yourself to fiction (in my case, it also means that I can buy any book I want, in hardcover -- the very definition of luxury).

But in the day-to-day aspects -- getting up in the morning, doing the dishes, doing the laundry, taking Lucy to playgroups and music class and doctor's appointments -- my life is really about the way it would be if I'd never written a book at all.

My sense is that this isn't what people want to hear, particularly if they're aspiring writers themselves. You want to hear that on the other side of the magic door, everything is perfect, nobody ever hurts your feelings or loses your dry cleaning, that there are no more empty orange juice containers in the refrigerator or dirty dishes in the sink.

Maybe it's that way for Dan Brown....but I kind of doubt it. Like he says, work is still work. "My current characters really don't care how many books I've sold, and they still require my same effort and cajoling to persuade them to do what I want."

Same here.

Which is by long-winded way of apologizing for the dearth of recent posts -- I'm trying to finish up revisions on Book Four, in time for an October 5 publication date.

For those keeping score at home, the book's coming out October 5, the film version of IN HER SHOES hits theaters on October 7. And on October 6, my album of Cole Porter songs drops!

Just kidding. On October 6, I'll probably be huddled in a hotel room somewhere in a state of disbelief.