Query Status - OPEN
Hello, everyone! I’m Despina Karras, and I’m a contemporary romance and romcom author. I was a mentor in the inaugural Kiss Pitch mentoring program in 2022 and I’m incredibly excited to be back!
I have spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a form of muscular dystrophy, and mostly write #ownvoices romances featuring heroines who also have SMA. I got tired of reading stories where disabled characters weren’t seen as real people and only seen as *inspirations*, so about ten years ago I wrote my first book with a main character who is disabled. I’ve since written three more books and I’m preparing to go on submission for the second time.
I was lucky to have been selected for Pitch to Publication, which later became RevPit, in 2016. I have also won a few romance writing contests, including the Put Your Heart in a Book contest hosted by New Jersey Romance Writers, and have been a finalist in several other contests. In addition, I’m a sensitivity reader and consultant for SMA and wheelchair use, and I’m the creator and host of #PitchDis, an online pitch contest for disabled, neurodivergent, and chronically ill writers.
I live in North Carolina with my family that includes my rambunctious cat and dog. I’m a certified weather geek with a B.S. in Meteorology, and I also have B.A. in Communication Studies with a Journalism minor. I’m addicted to coffee and I love photographing beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I’m represented by the lovely Eva Scalzo at Speilburg Literary.
Anything else you’d like to know about me? Just ask! I’m an open book (pun slightly intended).
I am so ready to dig into your contemporary romance and romcom manuscripts! I'm currently only looking for adult manuscripts, and here are just a few things I’d love to see.
I’m a sucker for anything with a fame aspect to it. Does your story have an actor? Singer? Broadway star? Or someone who works for/with these people, like producers, movie crews, publicists? Send it my way!
Books with STEM characters. As someone with a science degree, I love seeing STEM heroines. Astrophysicists, chemists, and yes, meteorologists—I want them all.
I’d also love to see contemporary retellings of fairy tales and older (80s and 90s) romance/romcom movies with a new twist. Give me The Bodyguard with the roles reversed—the heroine protecting the hero—or a LGBTQ+ present-day version of Cinderella.
As for tropes, I love fake dating, friends to lovers, enemies/rivals to lovers, and forced proximity.
I am open to #ownvoices books with characters from ALL marginalized groups—BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, or API (just to name a few).
I’m also open to all heat levels, from sugary sweet to super spicy.
Since I’m only open to romance, a HEA or HFN are a must—no exceptions.
Didn’t see anything from your manuscript on this list? No problem! As long as it’s contemporary or romcom and not on my Not Looking For list, feel free to send it over.
Not Looking For…
Young Adult and New Adult Romance. While I absolutely love reading young adult and new adult romance, I feel like I am more suited to help with adult manuscripts. We have wonderful YA and NA mentors, so make sure to check out their wish lists!
I don’t feel like I’m the best person to help with the following subgenres.
Sci-Fi and Fantasy
I also don’t care for the following.
Secret baby storylines
Stories where disabled characters are considered inspirations for doing what people normally do.
Any story with sexual assault, incest, or animals getting hurt.
Nazi or Nazi supporter storylines
My Ideal Mentee
I’m looking for someone who has a polished manuscript that has been seen by a few critique partners and beta readers and is looking for that extra oomph! to make it shine. My future mentee needs to be open-minded and realize they may have to kill some darlings to make their story the best it can be. I’m also looking for someone who will be honest with me and is willing to discuss things openly. When it comes down to it, this is YOUR story, and I’m just here as a guide. My job is to give you the tools and advice to make your book shinier and more appealing to agents and editors. Publishing is so subjective, and no one person will have all the right advice and answers.
My mentee needs to have good time-management and not miss deadlines. We’re not going to rush to do anything, but we will try to keep realistic deadlines.
While we’ll be working hard I want to have some fun with this process, and I’d like a mentee who has the same mindset and a positive attitude. Your book is going to be shinier! You’re going to learn things that’ll help you with your other books! These are good things, and the hard work you put in now is going to pay off in the end.
But above all, communication is key. I need my mentee to be open with me about any questions or concerns. I’m here to support you.
Am I the Right Mentor for You?
Here’s how I usually* approach the mentoring process and what my strengths and weaknesses are.
*I say usually because we can always make adjustments if needed.
If you’re my mentee, I will read your story twice before even giving you any feedback—once to catch any major things I see, like plot holes, pacing, etc., and then a second time to look for any smaller scale changes you may want to make. By the time you get my edit letter, your story will be seared into my brain.
I tend to make a lot of comments on my critiques, with lots of randomness, squeeing, hearts, and more, mixed in with advice. So please don’t let the amount of comment bubbles on your document freak you out.
My strengths are dialogue and making sure there are no plot holes. I can definitely help strengthen your characters’ voices if they sound a little too stiff. My weakness is comma usage. I’m getting better at it, but if that’s one of your main concerns I’m probably not the mentor for you.
I’m pretty laid back and will probably send you random messages with cute/funny gifs. I have to confess—I’m not the best at making book aesthetics. But need someone to help create a playlist for your story? I am SO your girl.
Basically, I’m going to be your biggest cheerleader and I’m going to stick with you long after the editing is over. Just ask my last mentee. She can’t get rid of me 😊
How to Query:
Before you proceed, make sure you have the following ready:
A query letter
The first 10 pages or the first chapter (whichever is longer) of your manuscript. This needs to be double-spaced.
A 1-2 page synopsis.
After that, click below to fill out the mentee application!
I’ll reply to every query within three weeks. If you haven’t heard from me, please reach out via email or social media.
How to connect
You’re more than welcome to email me at email@example.com with any questions, and you can find me at the following places as well.