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Author Twists 'Big Bad Wolf'

Career journey began with accounting.

Sterling author Donna Kauffman at one time thought that the writing of her first story was a matter of "trimester insanity."

In 1988, Kauffman was pregnant with her first child when she handwrote a story on a legal pad and put it away until her second pregnancy in 1990. She saw a course catalogue for Northern Virginia Community College and flipped through it, deciding to sign up for Writing for Publication, not realizing it was a journalism course for magazine writing.

"It was one of those things I got into out of curiosity," said the 43-year-old best-selling author.

Kauffman’s teacher, a member of the now Washington Romance Writers, saw that Kauffman was more interested in creative writing and encouraged her to join the writer’s group, which she did in 1991. Through her connections with members of the group, Kauffman sold her book "Illegal Motion" one-and-a-half years later, a book that has since gone out of print.

"Once I got into it, I found it was a creative outlet for me," Kauffman said. "What I am is a storyteller."

Kauffman has written more than 30 books, including 27 short format novels, three novellas and seven single-title books that are still in print. Her latest, "The Big Bad Wolf Tells All" published by Bantam Books Trade Paperback Original, went on sale last week.

"Donna is a successful writer because she never disappoints her fans, always delivering a fun, sexy read that leaves us wanting more," said Jill Shalvis, a friend and fellow writer of Kauffman's who lives in Lake Tahoe.

KAUFFMAN’S NOVEL tells the story of Tanzy Harrington, an online sex columnist and a "self-proclaimed love-’em and leave-’em artist," as stated on the jacket cover. The fictional Harrington ruminates about her life when her friends begin settling down with the sheep guys, who are meek and boring, while she still likes the wolves or the bad boys. An online fan begins stalking her, so her aunt hires a bodyguard, who acts like a sheep realizing Harrington is a man-eater, and she falls for him.

The story is a comedy, along with being a romance, the genre that Kauffman has been writing in since she began her career. "It’s the core of what life is. It’s two people who overcome obstacles to get together," she said, adding that in life, "no one is looking for an unhappy ending. … I find it to be a celebration. I find it to be joyful, to be fun. It’s what everyone is looking for, happy ever after."

"Reading her work is like reading about friends, about neighbors and

co-workers. It's easy to become involved in the lives of her story people, because she creates living, breathing characters," said Alison Kent, a fellow writer who lives in Houston, Texas. "Locations, occupations, time period, none of that matters as much as the way she brings her books to life through the eyes and ears and intelligent, witty minds of the players."

After graduating from high school and working with a CPA company willing to pay for her college, Kauffman realized that accounting was something she was good at and also "boring," she said.

KAUFFMAN quit two years later to try out her "Bohemian side," she said. After taking dance lessons for years, she decided on becoming a dance instructor until she "stumbled across a dog groomer," she said. Having grown up with animals, she considered becoming a dog groomer her next logical step, but she did not like the fact that dogs can bite.

"People don’t bite you when they’re not happy," said Kauffman, who became a hairstylist instead, earned a license in Georgetown and worked in top salons in the area for eight years. When she started going to the gym, a friend of hers was competing, and she decided to switch careers again to become a body builder. Then she got married and settled in on writing as her career.

"It’s a very interesting career path. At the time, it seemed perfectly logical," Kauffman said. As for now, "It’s a dream job. … It fits my lifestyle to a T," she said, adding that while her two teenage children are at school, she can work on writing from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. after she makes the "commute" downstairs, sometimes in her sweats. "It’s been super and rewarding. I was lucky to be published."

Kauffman has lived in Sterling for 17 years, where she lives with her husband of five years Mark Jean. She has two children.

Kauffman’s website is donnakauffman.com.