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Eli Cranor Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Books Make Brainz Taste Bad (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon
Don't Know Tough (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ozark Dogs (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon
Broiler (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Trick or Treat Free For All!: A Halloween Kids Book(2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Eli Cranor is a bestselling author of mystery fiction novels that is best known for his debut work Don’t Know Tough.

The author is a huge fan of football and played quarterback at every level. He would go from peewee to becoming a professional footballer and then became a high school football coach for half a decade.

These days he has given up the pigskin and opted for a laptop to become a critically acclaimed author. He published Don’t Know Tough his debut novel in 2022 and the work went on to win several awards.

However, this is not his first rodeo as over the years he has won multiple awards including the Robert Watson Literary Award by Greenboro Review in 2017 and the Missouri Review in 2018.

Apart from his fiction, Eli is the author of the Athletic Support column, a nationally syndicated column. He also writes Shop Talk, a craft column that is also featured on Crime Reads.

Everything started for Eli Cranor when he was in college at Ouachita Baptist and took a creative writing class.

He learned under Dr. Johnny Wink who is very popular in the literary world having trained many authors and teachers such as Andy Davidson and Greg Brownderville.

As a senior, he hung around campus for an extra semester so that he could play football for another season. During this time he used to pen one story a week that he would slip under Johnny Wink’s door.

Soon enough they would become great buddies and would sit drinking bourbon and discussing literature. But it was not until he watched The Rough South of Larry Brown the documentary that he decided he was going to do something different and huge.

Later on, Cranor would become a coach which is something that he did for more than five years and was relatively successful. Ultimately it was a combination of getting his ass kicked and trying to find ways to help the kids that got him out of coaching.

Things came to a head for Eli Cranor when his wife got pregnant and he found it hard to spend all his days at the fieldhouse. He wanted to get more involved in his daughter’s life even though he still wanted to remain competitive.

As such, he quit coaching and went back to writing seriously. Having a kid on the way proved to be great motivation as he thought there was no better chance to achieve his dream of becoming an author.

Cranor remembers how he used to write so fervently the few months before his daughter was born, as he did not believe he would ever again get so much time to get something substantial done.

However, William Boyle’s words that people with kids tend to do a lot more were more true for Eli Cranor, as he got a lot more written when his daughter was born than ever before.

For Cranor, it was all about time segments as he was always highly motivated to put the child down for a nap and do all that he could for the little time he had.

He put aside all messing around and began planning his writing around the kid’s bedtimes and nap times. Soon enough, also started getting up before his children just so that he could write.

Eli Cranor wrote “Don’t Know Tough” his debut novel in the last year he was still doing coaching and the year after. By this time he had an agent but when he left the agency, he found Ace Watkins in Oxford Mississippi.
He had gotten a lot of rejection letters by this point but just would not give up. His agent then introduced him to William Boyle who said that he would blurb the manuscript.

Soon enough, he started getting requests for the full manuscript in the early months of 2020. Most of the agents loved the manuscript but due to the uncertainty around COVID, none were willing to commit.

Frustrated, he decided to write a middle-grade book as he has an educational background given that his parents taught elementary school.

It was this manuscript that resulted in “Books Make Brains Taste Bad” inspired by RL Stine. He self-published the work on Amazon and it went on to become a moderate success.

He was on stage preparing to give a talk about the work when Soho Press’s Juliet Grimes sent him an email saying his novel was entered into the Peter Lovesey First Crime Novel Prize.

A fortnight later, he was informed that he had won and would be getting published.

“Don’t Know Tough” by Eli Cranor is the story of Trent Powers, a man that moves his family to Arkansas from California. He has just been hired by the Denton Pirates to become the head coach of the high school football team in town.
He is still not over the shock and pain of being fired from his previous coaching job, which had resulted in palpable disappointment from Marley, his wife and her father.

The whole town loves “The Pirates” and Trent is determined to prove that he has what it takes to become a successful manager. When his team makes it to the playoffs, he believes he has earned his ticket out of the small town and into the big leagues.
But things turn hairy really fast when Billy Lowe, his star player beats up Murphy, a wealthy kid at practice. Trent finds himself in a conundrum on whether he should bench or play his star player.

In the meantime, his star player’s home life is falling apart and he has been taking out his frustrations on his mother’s partner, who is known for being very abusive.

Trent believes he has a solution to Billy’s and his own problems and those of the problematic teen and invites the young man to live in his home. But the discovery of a dead body results in all manner of complications.
Things only get worse when Trent discovers that his teenage daughter has been showing a lot of interest in Billy.

Eli Cranor’s novel “Ozark Dogs” is the story of two families grappling with the legacy of murder in what is a chilling Southern thriller.

Following his son’s conviction for murder, Jeremiah Fitzjurls becomes responsible for the welfare of Joanna who he raises with as much care as a Vietnam War veteran can muster.

He teaches her how to fight and shoot, but there is no way they can fight off the fanatical white supremacists, and notorious meth dealers named the Ledlords, who kidnap Joanna.

The dreaded gang claim that she is the payment for a debt Jeremiah has taken too long to pay. Apparently, the Fitzjurl family has done something to the Ledlords and they intend to punish them with an eye for an eye.
These narratives collide to make for an immersive and atmospheric story of family and how far people may go to honor and in some instances destroy it.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Eli Cranor

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