Bill Storey likes to say that life doesn’t end at age 50.
In a way, it just begins.
Storey is 83, long retired from military service and freelance journalism, and is enjoying a new chapter in his life in Oak Harbor as a novelist.
He recently self-published his first book titled “Misty Fyord is Missing,” a tale of mystery and romance based in one of his favorite longtime vacation spots in the Florida Everglades. He’s planning to write another novel set in Anacortes, Oak Harbor and Alaska.
His writing reflects his own life encounters and knowledge gained through life as an officer in the Army, three tours in Vietnam and during his many vacations mingling with locals at Everglades City.
He spent two decades as a freelance journalist, writing travel and technical pieces about outdoor recreation, often related to recreation vehicles. He wanted to put his pen to something new.
“This is my first fiction novel,” Storey said. “I did non-fiction.”
Storey’s book is about cigarette and counterfeit money smuggling and hijacked yachts. It falls under the genres of mystery, romance and amateur sleuth. Much of the story is based on knowledge he gained from his annual month-long vacations to Everglades City.
“I’m not trying to make money on it,” Storey said. “It’s a story I felt needed to be told about mid-life people. You don’t die at 50. You have a life. You have romance. You have adventure.”
Storey is experiencing a new life himself since meeting his wife, Luci, after relocating to Whidbey Island. Both were widowers when they met. They got married in 2006.
Storey had spent “a tough eight years” living alone after his wife of 48 years and college sweetheart, Charlotte, died after long illnesses. The life he knew was taking care of her, and he went through his own readjustment and loneliness after she was gone.
“I don’t like being alone,” he said.
Bill and Luci met during a coffee date he set up. He had noticed her singing in the choir at church but never got a chance to meet her since she didn’t attend the coffee hour after service. So he arranged the meeting.
“That’s how it all started,” Luci said.
In Luci, Bill found a new life partner and discovered two of her special talents.
She could type.
And she could read his writing.
Most of the time.
“She says I should have been a doctor,” he said.
Storey doesn’t do computers, and doesn’t like email.
He writes long hand, carefully creating characters before diving into chapters while sitting at his rolltop desk.
He started his book four years ago, writing chapters while they were on a cruise ship to the Fiji islands.
Luci transferred his written word to the computer before a neighbor fine-tuned the story with a final edit.
Storey tried to pitch his book to a traditional publisher but ran into road blocks because he was new. So he opted to self publish the book and paid for a print-on-demand publishing service to handle his book. For $750, it provided 10 soft-cover books, two hard covers, a cover design and an online marketplace to purchase the book by going to their website.
Prices range from $29.99 for a hard cover to $3.99 for an E-book. He is hoping to have his book stocked at the Oak Harbor Library and local bookstores this summer.
Storey, who uses William J. Storey as his author name, retired as a full colonel from the Army. He also earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan while he and Charlotte raised three children.
His eldest son, David, is a retired Air Force fighter pilot; his daughter Kathy is a retired certified public accountant and youngest son Ken owns a public relations and real estate business in Virginia.
Storey said his daughter is already kidding him about delving into romance writing. But he can take it. He belongs to romance and mystery writer associations.
He likes weaving a tale around mystery, romance and action. He said his book is intended for a mature audience.
“No four-letter words,” he said.
His next book also is about illegal trade. It will be titled “Alaskan White Gold,” based on the illegal ivory trade industry. He used to be stationed in Alaska and vacationed there.
He’s listened to many stories over the years and was intrigued by the subject.
“It’s big business in Alaska,” he said.
“A lot of people don’t know this.”