I know, I know. I keep on saying how everything from sonic toothbrushes to coupons for dish soap change my life, but this time I think it really happened.

On Saturday the Toronto Romance Writers hosted a workshop, "Writing the Breakout Novel," which was presented by uber-agent Donald Maass.

A lot of the members in our group were really excited when the workshop was first announced. And then they kept on counting down the days, marking calendars and checking the group loop for more details.

I wasn't sure what to expect, what with having had my life changed so many times before.

First of all, he's shorter than I expected.

Then he started speaking. And I found myself jotting down notes, having "aha" moments all over the place and realizing that, for the first time in ages, I "got it." This wasn't one of those workshops where you had to have an in-depth understanding of English literature or on every single genre of popular fiction; you just had to have the need to write a better novel.

You know -- a breakout novel. ;)

Now this workshop wasn't about writing novels about acne. This was about writing a novel that flies off the shelves, gets talked about and recommended, and maybe, just maybe hits the bestseller lists. What every writer dreams of having happen to his or her word-filled baby.

Donald asked a lot of questions and then, just when you thought you didn't have any more freaking answers, he'd ask some more. It was kind of annoying at first.

And that's when I realized something. He was doing exactly what my evil copywriting instructor from college would have us do: take our brainstorming to a whole new level by bringing in elements of our own experiences to make a stronger connection. One that would resonate with the targeted audience and create an inherent need for the product.

Whaddya know? The same tactics used to sell cough syrup can also apply to create books that fly off the shelves.

As if they sell themselves. Huh.

Okay, I must get back to the current work in progress. Time to dig deep and create something spectacular. Or at least a novel that'll get published, and maybe cause me to break out.

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