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Donna Raye publishes first novel, ‘The Sands Of Sanibel’

By Staff | Jul 8, 2009

In her childhood, Donna Raye grew up in Fort Myers, spending many of her most cherished moments enjoying the pristine beaches and shorelines of Sanibel.

And while her lifelong dreams eventually took Raye away from Southwest Florida, the island remained close to her heart and always in her mind.

The prolific children’s book author, now residing in Davenport, Fla. – “Fifteen minutes away from Walt Disney World,” she notes – recently expanded her writing horizons by publishing her first novel. And it’s no surprise that she selected her favorite getaway place as the spot to set her tale, entitled “The Sands Of Sanibel.”

“I know the island like the back of my hand,” Raye said on Monday. “A lot of my favorite experiences took place there, so there’s still a lot of ‘me’ left on Sanibel.”

“The Sands Of Sanibel,” which debuted earlier this year, follows a young woman named Catarina. As a child, Cat was strong and determined, knowing she was created to maintain their tiny island and help others. When Cat met Lars, she had no interest in falling for him.

After adolescence and a series of events that bring them closer together, the two begin to see that their feelings for each other run deeper than the ocean they so love. However, Cat’s dream of becoming a marine biologist and Lars’ top secret navy missions threaten to keep them apart.

Leaving their beloved homes on Sanibel Island for unknown destinations, they soon discover that though some things change with the tide, one thing will remain unchanging – their love for one another.

Through an unexpected path, Cat and Lars find that the ocean, though changing, will forever connect them in ways they never imagined.

This Saturday, July 11, Raye will be signing copies of “The Sands Of Sanibel” at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, located at 5377 Tamiami Trail in Naples from 1 to 3 p.m. She also said that she’d welcome an opportunity to appear on Sanibel with her books, which include several children’s titles.

“That would be a dream come true!” said Raye, who also hopes to do a presentation and reading at the Sanibel Public Library in the near future.

The author never considered a career as a writer, but circumstance brought her to the industry about five years ago. A tragic brush fire accident left her body badly burned. During her recovery, still unable to speak, Raye found herself doing a lot of observations of things she saw around her.

“I was lying in my bed at home one night when I saw a firefly land on a screen,” she recalled. “It was amazing to me because this tiny little light was breaking through the darkness. I thought that it was so beautiful, and that’s when I came up with the idea for Edison the Firefly.”

Her first children’s book, “Edison the Firefly and his buddy Bell,” came out in 2007, and was followed with two more books in the series – “Edison the Firefly and the Invention of the Lightbulb” and “Edison the Firefly and Ford the Fly” – last year.

“I have 27 books that I’m working on in my kids series and five books in ‘The Sands of Sanibel’ series,” Raye noted. “My mission as a writer is to get more people interested in the art of reading. It’s a great way to build your vocabulary and, for children, being a good reader helps with their education.”

Raye explained that in her books, she will never publish anything that would embarrass anyone or be negative in any manner. It is her primary intention to inspire the reader.

“I want to send a message to never give up on one’s self,” she added. “Don’t give up on your own ideas and encourage other people to do the same.”