Nowadays everybody uses lensbabies because they're cheap and shitty and ugh. But a decent PC lens is a joy to work with. You can also succeed with Lightroom but you need to be shooting a lot wider than you think.
My suggestion is to get the A-Z book, look at what's possible and then browse the stock photo sites for ways the subject you're looking at doing has been done. I would also do the boring conventional thing they're expecting, and then try some more fanciful stuff and see which they pick. Hedge your bets.
Keep us posted.