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This summer New York Times bestselling author Nova Ren Suma and Author, Medium, and Intuitive Healer Holly Raychelle Hughes are hosting Ghosts, Witches, and Craft: A Salem Writing Retreat!

Our second annual writing retreat will be in the bewitched city of Salem, Massachusetts, August 6–9, 2020. We’ll be staying in the famously haunted Hawthorne Hotel.

If you’re brave enough, ask for a room on the third or sixth floor… We have it on good authority that they’re haunted!

The retreat includes:

  • Generative writing workshops
  • Craft lecture from Nova and crafty conversations
  • Intuitive healing sessions with Holly
  • Witch tours and opportunities to learn Salem’s history
  • Ghost stories and spine-tingling prompts
  • Continental breakfast and lunch
  • Surprises and inspiration

Nova will lead the group of no more than twenty writers in prompts and creative exercises inspired by witchcraft and the haunted history of Salem. She will deliver a special craft lecture meant to spark ideas and deepen the magic in your stories. In addition, she will offer the choice of an intimate craft-focused small-group session or an optional 30-minute one-on-one conference with her.

Holly will support the group and share all she sees moving around you, and she expects there will be many long-lost witches, spirits, and energy walking beside you in Salem. Holly will also be offering healing sessions in intimate small groups.

Finally, there will be opportunities for you to connect with your fellow writers and share your own writing in a private salon reading. And we have surprises in store that may involve tarot experimentation and wisdom from practicing witches!

Please Be Warned:

We are going to explore witchcraft, dark magic, tarot cards, curses, murdered witches, the dead, and other arcane spells over the course of our days together. If any of these practices or beliefs frighten you, this retreat is not for you. ***Beware what you summon; it may just follow you home.



Early bird cost was $1411 and applications had to be received by December 31, 2019.

Rate increases:

Feb-March Retreat Total: $1512

April-May Retreat Total: $1562


Workshop tuition price Feb-March: $945

Workshop tuition price April-May: $995

Workshop Tuition includes: all tours, excursions, visitors, continental breakfast, catered lunch served in the hotel library, optional small-group session or meeting with Nova, small-group healing sessions with Holly, Nova’s craft lecture, structured craft and writing prompt sessions, and all the inspiration you require.

  • $200 NON-REFUNDABLE deposit will be due to hold your spot within 14 days of your acceptance.
  • A full scholarship will be offered to one applicant (details below).


Hawthorne Hotel special Ghosts, Witches, and Craft room rate is only $189/night including all room taxes. The total for a 3 night stay is $567Price is per night includes:

  • All taxes
  • Access to all hotel accommodations

The hotel is offering to extend the group rate for a few days prior to our retreat and after. We will start in the morning of Thursday, August 6th, so please consider arriving the day before and enjoy exploring the city and settling into the witchy scene. Hotel accommodations are paid directly to the Hawthorne Hotel. There are several room options available to our Witchy Group. Please make sure to be specific with your requirements when booking directly with the hotel. If you want a window, please make sure you request it.

You are under NO obligation to stay at the Hawthorne Hotel, although we believe it will enhance your experience because of its haunted nature and the group dynamics.

If you prefer to stay at another facility, transportation to and from the hotel and to the tours and excursions is your responsibility.

Our retreat meets daily in the hotel’s haunted library!

Holly and Nova are offering one full scholarship—which includes tuition, hotel, tours, and meals (excluding alcoholic drinks)—to one diverse writer. This scholarship recipient is responsible for their own travel costs to and from Salem, Massachusetts.

As outlined by We Need Diverse Books™ we define a diverse candidate as: LGBTQIA+, people of color or Indigenous people, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.

In order to apply for a scholarship, please complete the scholarship application. The deadline to apply for the scholarship is May 1, 2020.

Please note that spaces are likely to fill before the scholarship deadline, so if you are not offered the scholarship, we cannot guarantee a spot for you in the retreat unless you have already been accepted and paid the deposit to hold your place. If you are awarded the scholarship after putting in a deposit, we will refund the deposit. Otherwise, the deposit is not refundable.

The Hawthorne Hotel is accessible. The link provided includes all information regarding accessibility features. It is their mission to make it as easy as possible for all people, including those with hearing, vision, or any other disability, to stay at the property. However, please be advised that our group activities will include walking. Please be prepared to walk in summer heat if you want to take part in these excursions. All of the generative workshop sessions, lecture, craft conversations, meetings, continental breakfast, lunch, and readings will take place in the hotel.

Dinner and parking are not included; although parking is free on a first come first served basis at the hotel. We are happy to make dinner reservations for the group, but please note that the cost is additional. Joining the group for dinner will always be optional.

One-on-one and small-group sessions:

Optional one-on-one sessions with Nova will be limited to 10 writers, and a sign-up form will be shared in July 2020, with appointments available on a first come first served basis. There will also be small-group craft-focused or industry-specific conversations with Nova, which you can sign up for in advance to make sure the topic meets your interests and needs. Holly will have small group healing sessions. A sign-up form will be available in July 2020. The healing sessions will focus on energy healing, protection, and testing your senses.

Everyone is welcome!

Writers of all experience levels and publication histories are welcome to apply. The workshop sessions will be generative-only, and your writing will not be critiqued by the group. There will be an opportunity to share with the group one night at our private salon reading.

Generative writing:

Please be aware that the generative writing sessions led by Nova will ask you to be open to inspiration in the moment, so be prepared to bring your laptop or a notebook to write in. After each generative exercise, there will be an opportunity for anyone who wants to share their piece aloud. If this kind of writing environment is not for you, please be advised that this forms the heart of the workshop. However, you will never be forced to share on the spot and we always understand if you prefer your writing to stay private or shared with Nova only. In the salon reading, you are encouraged to share more polished and/or published work.

The retreat price increases on January 1st, 2020. 

New Year Special: If you register and are accepted in January 2020 the retreat price is $895 plus hotel.

If you register and are accepted February- March the retreat price is $945 plus hotel.

If you register and are accepted April- May the retreat price is $995 plus hotel.


Nova Ren SumaNova Ren Suma (she/her) is a New York Times bestselling author of strange, magical, and often ghostly young adult novels and a two-time Edgar Award finalist. Her latest novel A Room Away from the Wolves was a finalist for an Edgar Award and called “shiver-inducingly delicious” by the New York Times. Her other novels include the #1 New York Times bestselling The Walls Around Us as well as Imaginary Girls and more. One of her most favorite short stories she’s ever written, about a secretive coven of vengeful witches hidden in the woods, appeared in Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft. Nova teaches a popular YA novel workshop at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program as well as in the creative writing department at the University of Pennsylvania, and she is core faculty in the Writing for Children & Young Adults MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She’s from the Hudson Valley and currently lives in Philadelphia. The last time she visited Salem, she went for a retreat with a friend to work on the first draft of the novel that became A Room Away from the Wolves. For more about Nova, visit novaren.com.



Holly Raychelle Hughes is an author, intuitive healer, and medium. Her essay It Happened To Me: An Oscar Winner Bullied Me So Badly I Quit The Film Industry went viral two years prior
to the MeToo! Movement and is still being shared and written about today. More of Holly’s essays appear on Kveller.com and CafeMom.com. She was selected to perform her own personal essay in the nationwide play Expressing Motherhood in Los Angeles. Her short stories appear in numerous publications. Holly is represented by Carlie Webber of Fuse Literary. She is also a #Binder. Holly was a featured speaker at SHiFT Charlotte 2019, the Soul in the Raw, and How To Get Healthy And Pregnant Podcasts. When Holly isn’t writing she has an intuitive healing practice where she utilizes her intuitive gifts to help clients process past traumas, grief, and helps them transform their lives from chaos to empowerment.




Complete the form and attach your 5-page fiction writing sample. The 5-page sample of your fiction writing can be of any genre or age level and does not need to be a ghost story or feature witches.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Your application will receive a response within two weeks (14 days) of application, if not sooner. Once you are accepted, you will be emailed more information about the retreat, and the non-refundable deposit will be due within 14 days to hold your spot in the workshop. At that time, a link will be sent so you can book your room directly with the hotel. In order to be guaranteed a room at the discounted rate, you will need to book the room by May 30, 2020.

Applications will close when all 20 spots are full or on May 30, 2020, whichever comes sooner. Last year we sold out in less than four weeks.

If you apply after spots are full, we will have a small waitlist in case a spot opens up.

We accept payments for the deposit and tuition via: PayPal, Venmo, Zelle.


2019 Writing Retreat Application
Address *

Please answer the following questions. There are no right or wrong answers.

Our Code of Conduct: Ghosts, Witches, & Craft: A Salem Writing Retreat is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, or religion (or lack thereof). We do not tolerate harassment of attendees in any form. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

If workshop and retreat attendees violate these rules, our staff may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the conference with no refund.

By checking this box, you acknowledge our non-refundable deposit policy. *