Open Mic for Banned Books

I’ll be reading “Worm Loves Worm” at Big Hill Books on Saturday, October 7, 2023

Writing Habits and Hacks Class Sunday, Oct. 20th

I’ll be presenting my talk (for free!) to help prepare for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) at St. Paul’s Church on Lake of the Isles, 1917 Logan Ave S, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403


Do you want to write more — more often, more freely, more effectively — but fear you don’t have the discipline or time? Forget will power! What you really need are consistent writing habits and a handful of “writer brain hacks” adapted to fit your writing life and style. Learn the importance of short, regular, repeated writing sessions and establish a writing routine that will stick with you through National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November and beyond.

Holiday Pants

Yes! Poinsettia pants! Sadly, I can only start wearing after Thanksgiving, and have to put them away after Christmas. 

October Pants


Finally got some pants from Loudmouth for Halloween. 

March Pants

We came down to Florida for spring break to visit my parents, and I decided to visit several consignment stores, hoping to find some vintage Lilly Pulitzer pants to add to my collection.

Sadly, I didn’t find any vintage pants, but we had a great time with my folks, and I brought along a new pair of pants from Bonobos to wear, making this an excellent vacation.


Reading at the Dakota County Heritage Library, March 3rd

I’ll be at the Dakota County Heritage Library this Saturday, from 1-2pm, reading WORM LOVES WORM and talking about how pictures books are made.

So if you’re in the neighborhood, stop in, say “Hi!” and check out my “new-ish” pants.

Reading at Galleria Barnes & Noble. Feb.10th

This Saturday, at 10 am, I’ll be reading WORM LOVES WORM at Barnes & Noble in Edina

Stop by, hear me read,Worm Loves Worm and then we can grab a hamburger (served with habit-forming “crispy potatoes”) that the StarTribune calls an “unexpected delight” and rates one of the best burgers of the year.

January Pants

Apparently, I have some Scottish ancestors on my father’s side… I’m not a 100% sure about that, but still, since it’s January in Minnesota, which means it’s cold and dark, I thought I’d break out these “Black Watch” tartans from Bonobos… although I’m not a 100% sure they’re black watch. (I am color blind.)

Speaking of Bonobos, it’s looking like I won’t be buying too many pants from them in the future. They were bought out by Walmart last year and seemed to have stopped making “limited edition” pants. Not 100% sure about this, but I’m guessing pink paisley was just too much for Bentonville, Arkansas.

But I am 100% sure it is cold and dark here in Minnesota.

December Pants… and also November

November came and went in the blink of an eye and I completely forgot to post a picture of these “camo pants” from Bonobos.


Now December is almost over as well, the new year is hours away, and subarctic temperatures have arrived in Minnesota. So, that can mean only one thing: it’s time to break out the big, bad, plaids!

These tartans, from Castaway Nantucket Island, are not only warm and classic, but they go along with the tie I bought ages ago. Win-win-win!

Hope you had a wonderful Sir Isaac Newton’s Birthday and may 2018 bring you much joy and fun pants.


October Pants… Boo!

It’s Halloween, which means it’s still October, which means I can still post “Pants of the Month!”


This pair is from Bonobos and the picture was taken with my friend Jose at his birthday party last month. (Guess which pair is mine!)


Sadly, I don’t own any awesone Halloween pants. At least not yet. I’ve been looking for a pair with a little more je ne sais quo, you know, something that isn’t just pumpkins or skulls, and I think I may have found a winner.

Fingers crossed that they go on sale tomorrow!

Habits & Hacks

When I moved to the Twin Cities seven years ago, one of the best things I did was to go to the Loft Literary Center and sign up for a class taught by Rosanne Bane about how to building a writing habit.

Not only did the class help me increase my writing results, but also it helped give me confidence that I could handle the workload of Hamline’s MFA Program in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults.

This fall is the last time Rosanne will be teaching “The Writing Habit” class at the Loft Literary Center. In 2018 she’ll be semi-retired and “reveling in the glory of so much time to write and travel.”

I’m honored to announce that Rosanne will be handing the torch to me, and I’ll be co-teaching with her at the Loft beginning next week. The intention is that I’ll take over teaching this classic course, which has launched hundreds of satisfying and successful writing practices. I’ll also be adding all the apps, online tools, and techniques that I’ve found to help simplify

Rosanne’s book!

the logistics of building a writing habit and a writing career.

Hence, we’ve renamed the class “Writing Habits and Hacks.” It runs on Thursdays evenings (6:00 to 8:00 p.m.) for six weeks at the Loft Literary Center from September 21 to October 26, 2017. Here’s the catalog description: “Do you want to write more — more often, more freely, more effectively — but fear you don’t have the discipline or time? Forget will power! What you really need are consistent writing habits and a handful of ‘writer brain hacks’ adapted to fit your writing life and style.”

I invite you to join Rosanne and me!

September Pants and Representing

These “Power Paisleys” are from Loud Mouth Golf. I thought them fitting for this month pants since:

A) Paisley Park is here in Minnesota.

B) I just found out that WORM LOVES WORM is representing Minnesota at the 2017 National Book Festival.

How this happened is beyond me, but I’m very happy and honored to be repping the North Star State. If we hadn’t moved here I would have never discovered Hamline’s MFAC program and WORM would never have been written.

You betcha’!

So, if you know who it was that made WORM the rep of the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, please let me know so I can thank them properly by buying them some lutefisk taking them to a hockey game baking them a hot dish sending them a nice note.

Minnesota State Fair

If you plan on going to the Minnesota State Fair this Thursday: After you’ve eaten something fried and on a stick, be sure to stop by the Alphabet Forest.

I’ll be helping out there from noon to 3 p.m., and, yes, I’ll be wearing fun pants.

August: Red and Blue Cheetahs & Sunflowers

This pair of vintage Lily Pulitzer pants that I inherited from my dad are one of my favorites. Apparently, they were also one of my dad’s favorites as well. They’re a bit worn in the seat, so sadly I don’t break them out very often.

Honestly, there must be some way to recreate this pattern. Art this amazing should not be allowed to fade away. If anyone knows how to scan pants or somehow 3D print them, please let me know.

July Fireworks

Since I used the Stars and Stripes pants last July I thought I’d go with this explosive pair from Royal and Awesome.


Yes, I”m still learning how to golf, yes, I’m still having fun, and, no, I haven’t killed anyone.

…but there have been some close calls with the cars in the parking lot.

June Pants and Laura Ruby’s fantastic new book YORK

These pants are from Bonobos and they also happen to be one of Laura Ruby’s favorite pairs.

Laura Ruby is an incredible author, with such great books like BONE GAP and THE WALL AND THE WING.

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of her latest book, YORK: THE SHADOW CYPHER ( we share the same publisher!) and I devoured it… That is when I could get it away from my kids. YORK has everything I love in a story: The characters are fun and well drawn, the plot is filled with twists and turns, and it all takes place in an amazing alternative New York. Like I said on my Amazon review, “Yes, it is that good!”

But just after the book came out Laura posted an article at Nerdy Books Club saying, “A few weeks before the publication of my latest book and just in time for my birthday, I got a bouquet of my favorite lilies, a spa gift certificate, various cat- and fox-themed T-shirts, an industrial-sized bag of Pirate’s Booty, and breast cancer.”

It’s a heartfelt and moving article. No surprise since she wrote it.

Do yourself a favor and read the article. And then do yourself an even bigger favor for yourself and go to your local bookstore or to Amazon or even both and buy a copy of YORK and then post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, and the side of your local library in spray paint. You’ll be doing yourself a favor by buying a great book and also helping out a wonderful author who deserves to be read.

May Pants and where I compare Neil Gorsuch to Pontius Pilate

The fleur-de-lis, according to Wikipedia, is a stylized lily ( fleur means “flower” and lis means “lily”) that is used as a decorative design or symbol. Many of the saints are often depicted with a lily, most prominently St. Joseph. Since France is a historically Catholic nation, the fleur de lis became commonly used “at one and the same time, religious, political, dynatic, artistic, emblematic, and symbolic,” especially in French heraldry.

So, I thought these pants, from Bonobos, naturally, would be a good fit for me, since:

-My middle name is Joseph.

-I was born on All Saints Day.

-I was raised Catholic.

But, I now worship as an Episcopalian, since, as you may have guessed, having written a book like WORM LOVES WORM, I believe in marriage equality. I also think women should be allowed to be priests, clergy should be allowed to be married, and that everyone should be welcome to receive communion. Even Judge Neil Gorsuch, who also was raised Catholic, now worships as an Episcopalian, and whose very first decision as a Suprem Court judge was to let a man be killed.

Now, I don’t claim to be the best Episcopalian, or the best Christian, but even I know that Jesus thought all life was sacred, and I know that he was executed by the state.  I think someone needs to take Neil aside and explain to him that Pontius Pilate is not someone to model your career on.

Especially since the Episcopal Church has been against the death penalty since 1958.





“BRUH! Back off! this ain’t your bissniss!”

This appeared on Twitter, from Carrie Gelson, an elementary teacher, blogger, and my new personal hero.

This is one of the best reviews I have ever read and why I love writing for kids.

April Pants of the Month and where I win an award




The pants are from Bonobos and the award I won is from the Friends of St. Paul Public Library.

The photo on the left shows me accepting the Minnesota Book Award for Children’s Literature and saying that my winning was crazier than my pants. Honestly, I didn’t think WORM LOVES WORM was going to win at the April 8th awards ceremony.



The other photo is me with the other nominees, who are all amazingly talented authors/illustrators: Lauren StringerDavid LaRochell, and Mike Wohnoutka. (The other nominee, Alison McGhee, couldn’t attend.)

Not only are they enormously talented authors/illustrators but they’re also wonderful people who have welcomed me into Minnesota’s amazing KidLit community.


And, yes, I know, it’s been more like “pants of the every now and then, when J.J. remembers to update” rather than “pants of the month.” I promise to be better about updating the blog. If, at the beginning of next month, there are no new pants, then please send me a reminder. Or two.




Talking with Lu & Bean about worms, love, and silly voices


Last week at the Minnesota Children’s Book Festival I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Lu & Bean, and their mom, Tracy, for their fantastic kids story podcast!

It was so much FUN! Not only did I get to read WORM LOVES WORM out loud, in all my goofy voices, but we also got o talk about Star Wars, my next book, and, naturally, awesome pants.


So if you want to hear all the voices that live in my head go over and give it a listen right here.

JJ Austrian Love is Love