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Emails to my Therapist

Getting Groovy Again at Seventy-Four

Dear Nicholas, I’ve recently entered an exotic youthful world, a culture that is a wonder to me: TikTok. Have you been there? What did you think–or feel? I’m now a TikToker and youthfully groovy again, but like never before.

Tiptoeing Onto The Scene

I ventured out onto this social media platform because I have a new book out and want people to read it. These days TikTok–more specifically,the subculture there of BookTok–is the great driving force for book visibility. The influencers reporting on books here are powerful people–and usually quite young.

My novel, My Life On Earth And Elsewhere has a teenage main character. Darcy, age sixteen, is struggling to balance life in high school with a romance taking place in the astral zone. It was clear to me that I could not neglect TikTok.

Breathtaking and Baffling

My first glimpse of the short videos that make up this wild world was breathtaking and baffling. I felt as if I’d been heading to a library and then taken a wrong turn into an arena rock concert. My overall impression on my first run through some TikTok videos was come-as-you-are party with music by Taylor Swift and a few thousand others. Much dancing, some very glammed-up reviewers and some in clothes suitable for washing a car, plus great outpourings of emotion, weeping over sad books, etc. Videos! So much sound and motion!

First thought: I can’t do this.

But Then…

But then I kept visiting. The seeming rave party was not the whole story. Booktokers are passionate PASSIONATE readers. And I admire that.

First move: I made a video of myself.  Not about this particular book but about writing and keeping myself encouraged. A no-music rudimentary first try compared to the sophisticated reels I was seeing.

Then I got a young person to make some videos about my book for my page.



I asked what she thought about my own first effort. “Endearing,” she said.


Delightful Surprise Connection

Then I started seeking independent book reviewers on BookTok to read and report on my book. The first review came from someone I hadn’t even asked. Uncanny story: Valentina of time4bookswithv wrote me that she had read my first novel Revelation (published 1988) while living in Venezuela. Her mother gave it to her and it was one of the first books she read in English. The story meant a lot to her and she’d heard I had a new book out; she wanted to read it and spread the word.  I was so happy, probably should have videoed my own outpouring of emotion.

Then she posted, showed herself reading My Life On Earth And Elsewhere, eating a cake pop, drinking  a strawberry smoothie, jiving to the music, lip synching to the guy beside her, making notes, and underlining a favored bit of description on page 13 where main character Darcy is assessing her social standing as “Included but Not Pursued.”

A Rave

Valentina also declared me an ” incredible author” and my new novel an “amazing book.” Days later she included it in a pile of books she said made her feel like the song “Enchanted.”

Seeing the first of these was an altogether different experience from, say, getting a good review in The New York Times. as some of my work has done. I’m now finding that a good review on  TikTok is also highly worthy of celebration.

Since then another BookToker, called 223in2023, showed a video of herself happily opening the package with my book in it. I’m eager to hear what she thinks. A few more have asked for copies.


So I am now, at my advanced age, “active on TikTok.”And, with delight replacing my initial trepidation, still learning to be this new kind of groovy.







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  • June
    May 12, 2023 at 3:24 pm Reply

    Dang, girl. You are the brave one. May have to look more closely at TikTok to keep up with you.
    Also … Love the new book.

    • Peggy Payne
      May 12, 2023 at 4:18 pm Reply

      Thank you, June. I’m glad you like the book. And you may find Tiktoking fun.

  • May 12, 2023 at 3:40 pm Reply

    Nice to know there exists those in the younger generation that can read beyond the length of a bumper sticker or tweet. The book “arm” of TikTok appears to be high on reading, as they call themselves TikTokers and not TikTokkers. LOL

    • Peggy Payne
      May 12, 2023 at 4:16 pm Reply

      Took me a moment, Len, but I got it!

  • Anonymous
    May 12, 2023 at 3:45 pm Reply

    I love having such a jazzy friend!!

    • Peggy Payne
      May 12, 2023 at 4:17 pm Reply

      Well, thank you, Anon. Makes me feel even jazzier to read this from you.

  • Marie
    May 12, 2023 at 5:09 pm Reply

    Peggy, you are the bomb!!!

    • Peggy Payne
      May 12, 2023 at 5:25 pm Reply

      Madly working on it, Marie. Or playing at it.

  • May 12, 2023 at 7:51 pm Reply

    Peggy, I am so proud of you (and totally jealous!) for experimenting with TikTok and finding amazing success–congratulations! I’m going to print out your article for future reference. Please keep us posted on your ongoing efforts on this platform.

    • Peggy Payne
      May 12, 2023 at 10:31 pm Reply

      Will do. Thanks, Pat, I appreciate your encouragement.

  • May 13, 2023 at 2:04 am Reply

    Apparently, I was in a very different area of TikTok. What I saw were exceedingly juvenile
    videos, with hideous sound overlays of snickering and guffawing that IMO, were grossly overrated by the video-er. I suppose I will go back on it and look for the people who read!

    • Peggy Payne
      May 13, 2023 at 2:25 am Reply

      A lot of it is awful, I agree. And there’s some good stuff.

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