By Erin O'Riordan
It's accepted wisdom among pop psychologists that men are more visual than women, especially when it comes to how they perceive potential mates. Men like pictures, while women care more about thoughts and feelings. Still, this "rule" was never carved in stone, and erotic romance writers of both sexes sometimes need a little visual inspiration.
I have two favorite websites for this, one for scoping out delicious man-candy and another for scouting hot heroines. To ogle the boys, it's gotta be HunkDuJour.com. As the name implies, the website spotlights a different beautiful man every day. As I write this, said Hunk du Jour is Cory Fritz, a model with soulful eyes, chiseled cheeks and a tendency to take off his shirt.
In fact, most of the guys on HdJ have a tendency to take off their shirts. That's kind of the point. Shirtlessness is about as PG-13 as this popular blog gets, though. It's aimed at gay men, but as the bloggers point out, it's still "mom-friendly." Plenty of hunkiness, no nudity.
One caveat about HdJ: if you're looking for a photo of a specific guy, don't trust the A-Z list. A month or so ago, I spotted a Sam Worthington lookalike at breakfast, wrote a blog post based on it, and tried to link to Sam on HdJ. I couldn't find him on the A-Z list, and said so in the blog post. Just the other day, I discovered I had been wrong. Not only was Sam the Hunk of the Day (HOTD), but he'd been discussed on the blog before. If a male celebrity or model is under 40 and you think he's good-looking, chances are he's been on HdJ.
Female inspiration can always be found at dorothysurrenders.blogspot.com. The blogger, who goes by the clever nickname of Dorothy Snarker, calls it "A Gay Gal's Guide to Pop Culture. Why Should the Boys Have All the Fun?" Fun indeed are Dorothy's observations on everything from True Blood to the recent spate of straight men writing "lesbian" blogs. Her language in these observations is definitely PG-13, but you won't find shirtlessness here.
Dorothy does have two particularly fun lady-lovin' features, though: Gender F*ck Thursday, which collects photos of female celebs in male drag (suits and ties), and Tank Top Tuesday. The only thing these lady celebs have in common is their tank tops - they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. No matter where you fall on the rainbow of sexuality, it's nice to see a wide range of beautiful women appreciated, even if they don't all look alike.
If you're looking for a specific lady, Dorothy's tag list is conveniently located on the side of the page. This one's pretty reliable, and covers all of Dorothy's favorites from Aimee Mann to Zooey Deschanel.
Whether you use these or other websites for your visual inspiration, have fun looking! You never know how a way of looking into the camera, the tilt of a hat, a hint of a smile or the way someone fills out a tank top will spark great fiction. Happy writing!