Some write for fame while others write for fortune. Former Bakersfield Californian editor Kathy Des Jardins wrote her book, Mama Tried (The Wild Rose Press) to preserve a memory.

Des Jardins will discuss her novel at a special event scheduled to be held 4:30-5:30 p.m. May 12 at Beale Memorial Library’s Local History Room, 701 Truxtun Ave. Not only will she be talking about the long and winding tale of getting her debut book to print but she also will be signing pre-purchased copies.

Mama Tried, takes a southern comfort approach to looking at radio personality Joy Faye Savoy. She has built a big following of listeners through a passion for country music and a tendency to tell stories about her very unique mother, Quida Raye Perkins. Joy soon finds herself sharing those stories with a larger audience when her radio show begins airing on radio stations across the country.

Des Jardins spent years trying to come up with the right subject for a novel before she landed on the idea to write a book inspired enough by her own life and relationship with her mother that it would give her three sons an insight into their family heritage.

“My youngest son was finishing college and – as I had with every graduation and major life event – I wished my mother could have been there, would have met these grandsons,” Des Jardins says. “Since that was impossible, I focused on the possible: Using the novel I’d been rewriting for years to flip the script and introduce my sons to their grandmother.”

Des Jardins leans heavily on the country music world for her book including the selection of the book’s title based on a song by Bakersfield’s own Merle Haggard. Each chapter in the book is named for a different country tune ranging from the Emmylou Harris song “Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight” to Vice Gill’s “Go Rest High on the Mountain.”

Although the inspiration for Mama Tried owes its roots to the years Des Jardins lived in Louisiana and Kentucky she stresses the book is colored by the years she lived in Kern County.

She worked at The Bakersfield Californian from 1988-91 as an editor of two of the newspaper’s special publications – Neighbors and Teen Scene. All the editorial content in Teen Scene was generated by a staff of local high school students.

Her stint at The Californian came after working for newspapers in Hopkinsville, KY, and Alexandria, LA. Her first attempt at writing a novel was a collection of her newspaper columns from Louisiana.

“It was assembled decades ago when I lived in Bakersfield, and now the novel very loosely inspired by those columns ends in Bakersfield. I might have left Bakersfield years ago, but Bakersfield clearly never left me,” Des Jardins says.

Des Jardins spent years writing Mama Tried. She discovered that the writing process was only the start of a long battle that included finding a publisher, getting her manuscript down to a workable size and marketing the book.

There was never a moment when Des Jardins thought about giving up on the book.

“I gave up many other related subjects – such as all fantasies involving the words ‘Oprah,’ ‘Reese’ and ‘million-dollar publishing contracts.’ Then, once those crazy delusions were history, the book finally began taking shape,” Des Jardins says. “In order to get my future editor to even look at my manuscript, I had to cut a third of it.

“That means I had to winnow it down from about 160,000 words to 100,000 or thereabouts. Imagine weighing 160 and having to diet down to around 100. That’s how painful it was.”

This was all done while juggling her family and business life. She owns a publications firm in metro Atlanta and is a member of the Atlanta Writers Club and Roswell Reads. The former newspaper reporter, columnist and editor won her first journalism award for a country concert review. That was just the start as the Georgia resident went on to win nearly 100 national, regional and state awards.

In addition to winning two Louisiana Press Association’s Best Regular Columnist Awards, four Louisiana Press Women Sweepstakes Awards, and a first for humor articles from the National Federation of Press Women, she was honored by the Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press Newspaper Contests and United Press International Newspapers of Louisiana, among other organizations. She has also received California Press Women’s Outstanding Excellence Award and USTA Georgia’s Media Excellence Award. 

For more information on the book and author, go to kathydesjardins.com. If you can’t make it to the book signing, Mama Tried can be purchased in paperback or for the Kindle at Amazon.com.