When Dolly Sickles ’96 and her husband had their son Peyton in1998, they knew they wanted to give him something that would always pay dividends for him. Savings accounts and college funds are great, but they decided on a gift that would challenge his imagination and teach him at the same time.
“We decided when he was born we were going to build him a great library,” she says. “Kids are a lot smarter than adults give them credit for, and books can teach them lessons they can apply without being preachy.”
Now Sickles is adding her own work to that library. Already the author of a string of romance novels written under the pseudonym Becky Moore, Sickles will release her first children’s book, Peggy Noodle, Hula Hoop Queen, on Friday. The book will be published under her pseudonym, Dolly Dozier, by Peak City Publishing.
Peggy Noodle follows a young girl who is dealing with peer pressure and outside expectations of what she should be. She’s a tall girl, so everyone expects her to play basketball while she wants to pursue hula hooping.
“Her friends have in mind what she’s supposed to be,” Sickles says. “Ultimately she caves, and the very first game is a disaster. What Peggy Noodle has to face is rejection and opinions.”
Sickles spent her career in grant-writing and marketing for several companies and nonprofits. She turned to writing romance novels and drafts of children’s books when she wrote grants for the Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina.
Sickles would get disheartened looking at depressing epidemiological statistics and the harsh stories of the people she was trying to secure money for with grants. So her own writing became an escape.
That experience made Sickles see a lesson that her now-adolescent protagonist must come to realize. “I learned how important it is to have self confidence and self esteem,” she says. “I learned how important it is to advocate for yourself.”
Sickles, who majored in English at NC State, sold her first romance book in 2009. She hopes to serialize the Noodle character and has set a goal to have a literary agent by the end of this year, the foundation for what Sickles hopes is a prolific publishing career using what she believes is her best skill.
“I think writing well is a skill you’re born with,” she says. “Either you can tell a story or you can’t. It’s that simple.”
On Saturday, Feb.11, Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex will hold a launch party for Peggy Noodle, Hula Hoop Queen from 2-4 p.m. There will also be a hula hoop contest.