Monday, October 29, 2007

Candy Neely Arrington

This adorable and friendly Southern Belle goes by the name of Candy, but do you know what her real name is? And what surprising pastime did Candy indulge in as a child?**

Candy grew up the only child of a couple who had a large extended family with a rich heritage of Southern tradition and deep faith. It's no wonder she grew up grounded firmly in her own faith that gives her a foundation to write the hundreds of articles, sometimes on highly sensitive issues, such as her collaboration on a book about coping with suicide. She is above all a Christian, but this sets her feet on the ground to be a steady wordsmith.

If you have been around Christian writing and publishing for very long, you know the name Candy Arrington, but now let's find out the fun stuff behind that sweet name:

Candy with MaMa Ruth Anne and Mama Mildred Ruth
Tell us the story of your name:

This is always a fun story to tell! When I was born, I was named for my maternal grandmother, Ruth Anne. But within days, everyone was calling me Baby Ruth to distinguish me from my grandmother. My daddy, humorous one that he was, declared that if I was Baby Ruth I was Candy, as in one of his favorite candy bars. The name stuck, although the moniker has caused much confusion over the years.

Many people feel it necessary to christen me "Candace" for the sake of formality, I suppose. When I try to explain that Candy is a nickname that has nothing to do with Candace I usually get a blank looks. Adding to the confusion, when I married, I wanted to keep both names - Ruth Anne - and use my maiden name initial - N. So, I began writing my name as Ruthanne. Government entities, and others, followed my lead and I effectively changed my name to Ruthanne N. Arrington.

Childhood Ambition:
OK, no laughing! I wanted to be a secret agent. Remember "Get Smart?" I wanted to be Ninety-nine. In fact, I had a secret agent kit that included a finger pen that wrote with disappearing ink, glasses that let you read secret code between the lines, and a compact that was a telephone - a forerunner of the cell phone, perhaps?

Fondest Memory (then): My fondest childhood memories centered around family. I loved sitting on my grandmother's front porch with assorted aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, and grandparents singing to the rhythm of cicadas on summer evenings. I learned to sing harmony sandwiched between my two maiden aunts on the porch glider. I'm grateful for my musical heritage.

Gatherings of Daddy's side of the family numbered a hundred or more. As an only child, I loved having "cousins by the dozens." The Neely family get-togethers occurred on Christmas Eve and Fourth of July. There was always lots of music, joke-telling, hugs, and laughter. The July 4th celebration always included numerous churns of homemade ice cream served around someone's swimming pool.

Proudest Moment (now or then):

I love watching my daughter (violin) and son (cello) perform with various orchestras - high school, regional, all-state, and college. I am so thankful for the blessing they are in my life.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:

I was extremely gullible. Because honesty was important to me, I assumed everyone else was honest, making me an easy target for practical jokers and/or those who were just plain mean. I was also easily embarrassed, which seemed to delight those targeting me. I was the person who got anonymous notes that said ugly things or phone calls from unidentified callers who told me I was weird and then hung up.

My First Job:

As a young teen, I worked for the Children's Director at our church in the summers making a tiny little bit of money, but excited to be on "staff."

Childhood Indulgence:

I loved to roller skate and Mama let me skate up and down the hall and into the kitchen. On Friday nights, she'd take me to Westwood Skating Rink, clear on the other side of town, and I'd rent a pair of "real" skates and skate until closing time. One year, Mama and Daddy gave me a pair of white boot skates, with toe-stops, just like the ones at the rink and a red and white starburst pattern, metal case to carry them in. I also had a pink pair and a red pair of furry pompoms to lace onto the skates. I still have the skates, pompoms, and case!

Favorite Outfit as a Child:

That's hard to answer. Mama made most of my clothes and often let me pick the fabric. I wore dresses Mama smocked until I begin to feel totally uncool in them. I remember a white organdy dress that had pastel butterflies on it and a colonial dress, complete with those hip bustles, that she made for something I was in at school. She not only made dresses, she also made my coats and hats.

Favorite Childhood Movie:

The Sound of Music. I had the album, too, and learned the words to all the songs by playing it over and over and singing along.

Favorite Childhood Book:

Anything Dr. Seuss. I was fascinated by the made-up words and rhymes. I also loved Nancy Drew. My aunt gave me five Nancy Drew books one year for my birthday and I was so excited I could hardly stand it.

Childhood Hero:

No doubt about it, my daddy. He was tall, strong, funny, compassionate, humble, and the most exemplary follower of Christ I've ever known.

Favorite Childhood Pastime:

When I was nine, Daddy built an in-ground, heated, gunite swimming pool in our back yard. I loved swimming all afternoon and into the evening. He also bought an old pinball machine and put it in our garage. One rainy summer, I entertained myself trying to surpass my personal best on the pinball machine.

Messy or Organized Child?

I was organized in a messy sort of way. One summer, a friend and I set up a Barbie house we designed under the edge of my bed. We played Barbies all summer and the sweet lady who cleaned our house graciously cleaned around my mess.

Anything else you would like to tell readers about your childhood or about current life (including activities or conference teaching?)

My current life is very much a balancing act. My mother is 87 and still lives in her home, although she no longer drives. My days are spent juggling her transportation and other needs, "doing" for my husband and senior-in-high-school son and senior-in-college daughter, and squeezing in writing as often as possible. I co-lead a local writing group, sing in the choir at church, write for the church web site and magazine, and teach at the Glorieta and Blue Ridge conferences. Jim and I will celebrate our 27th anniversary in November. We met 28 years ago in the Single's Department at church.

Candy Arrington is a Contributing Writer for Focus on the Family's Focus on Your Child parenting newsletters. Additional publishing credits include: Marriage Partnership, Today's Christian, Discipleship Journal, The Upper Room, Encounter, The Lookout, Christian Communicator, Advanced Christian Writer,, and Writer's Digest. A graduate of Wofford College with a B.A. degree in English, Candy finally realized her love of words, years of journaling, and stories that danced in her head, begging to be written, were all part of God's call on her life to write for publication.

Knowledge gained from and connections made through Christian writers conferences and online writers' groups afforded Candy the opportunity to publish over 200 articles, devotionals, and stories in numerous magazines, compilation books, and on websites.
She is coauthor of AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group) and is a contributor to numerous anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Soul – Healthy Living: Diabetes. Candy is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and is on faculty for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and the Glorieta Christian Writers Conference. Candy is a C.L.A.S.S. (Christian Leaders Authors and Speakers Services) graduate . She is also a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group)


"Life Lessons from Deuteronomy" - The Lookout - August 2007

"The Right Kind of Appetite"
- The Lookout - January 2007

"Empty Arms: Making the Most of the Waiting Years"
- The Lookout - September 2006

"A Recipe for True Love"
- The Lookout - May 2006

"A Delicate Balance: Caring for Aging Parents" The Lookout - March 2006

"Suicide: What does the Bible Say?"
- The Lookout - February 2006

"Managing Anger" - Focus on Your Child

"How to Help Your Child Grieve" - Focus on the Family

"Five Inspiration Killers: And How to Overcome Them" - Spirit-Led Writer

"9 Secrets to Successful Collaboration" - Writer's Digest

**(Now you know about Candy's name and that she was a pinball wizard!)


Virginia Smith said...

Another terrific interview, Crystal! Good job.

Candy, the story of your name is really terrific. I have a 6-month-old niece named Victoria, but her big sister called her "the little Dolly" from the beginning. Now the entire family calls her Dolly. I think it's going to stick!

Anonymous said...

I loved Candy's description of herself as being "messy, in an organized sort of way." When I'm in the middle of a project, I can sure relate to that - stacks of papers and reference books everywhere, yet I know where everything is.

Crystal, your profiles are so much fun to read. It's a special writing niche!