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New Titles From Star Route Books

We have recently finished some interesting book projects. While each of these books is unique, all are exceptional. And all are educational.

EddClayCoverFrom Hardscrabble to Pearl Harbor by Edd Clay. Mr. Clay’s book is a memoir of his early life in Haywood County, North Carolina, his naval service in World War II and afterward. He was actually on a heavy cruiser, the USS Minneapolis, “rounding Diamond Head” during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

For Mr. Clay’s book, we designed the page layout and cover, formatted the images for print, proofread the manuscript and generated a digital file for the printer. All proceeds from sales of the book benefit Barium Springs Home for Children. Mr. Clay sells the books on and at speaking engagements.

Edd Clay was born in 1919 and grew up near Bethel, North Carolina, at that time a remote mountain enclave. Before he should have been driving, he was hauling lumber over his father’s treacherous plank road, the only way out on the first two miles to market. But as he drove, he dreamed of expanding his horizons. At 18, he left home to join the Navy.


Alleghany County North Carolina Abstracts of Deed Books A1 and B2 by Rebecca Moon, to benefit Alleghany Historical Museum. Rebecca’s work on the book is impressive but not surprising given her extensive work on her web site, The Cheek Family of Alleghany County. She researched, transcribed, formatted and indexed the first two deed books for the county and then donated rights to publish the finished work to the Alleghany Historical – Genealogical Society. She has also generously added enough data for several future books.

For the Deed book, we designed the cover and adjusted the pdf to make a print-ready file. ISI is producing the books, “on-demand,” for the Historical Society who uses proceeds to help pay expenses of the Alleghany Historical Museum.

Print-on-demand technology has benefited this fund raising project in several ways. The Society was able to immediately proceed with the project without the outlay of any up-front funds for a traditional press run. And since books are produced on-demand, there is no need for costly storage space. The Blue Ridge Business Development Center currently donates an office to the Society for storage of existing inventory. Books can be ordered in small batches as they are needed or they can be drop-shipped directly to customers who order online. And that’s not all: the Society is making more profit per book than with any book they have ever produced.

Find the Alleghany Deed books  and all AHGS books in our store on Main Street in Sparta or online, at


HealingMyJourneyHomeCoverHealing, My Journey Home by Meachele Mothership Montgomery. Meachele’s book- already a huge success with over 200 copies sold in the first month- is the triumphant story of how she traveled the length of the Appalachian Trail after the tragic death of her husband, Roy.

For Meachele’s book, we performed complete digital prepress services: We worked with Meachele to design page layout in a way that matched her personal style, helping to select and place her photography. We laid out the cover, helped proofread the manuscript and formatted images for print. ISI is producing books, on demand, for Meachele. She orders in batches and sells, primarily, at local signings and appearances but has also developed a web site for marketing outside the region. We’re also proudly retailing these exceptional books in-store and online, at

Born Meachele Ronald in Berlin, Germany to Erika and Floyd Ronald, a 28 year Army Veteran. She became an Army Brat who followed the family around the globe. Before serving in the U.S. Navy, she graduated from the University of Chapel Hill, NC with a degree in Anthropology. After marrying her husband, Ray, in Wales, she resigned her commission in 1986. She became a full time mom and helped with play groups. Once her third son was born, the family was stationed back in Wales. The family enjoyed horses and hiked over the countryside. Meachele’s husband, Ray, retired from the U.S. Navy in 1998, and they built their dream home in the mountains of North Carolina. The family continued exploring the mountains near Mount Rogers, Va. Meachele and Ray had always dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail with their younger son, Eric. In March 2011, Meachele decided to hike the trail with her dog, Cianna.


CalliAnteaterCoverThe Anteater That Couldn’t Eat Ants was written and illustrated by Calli Brielle McIntyre, as a part of her Crowning Purpose initiative, which focuses on allergy research and anti-bullying education.

For Calli’s book, we began with her watercolor paintings and story, already divided into page breaks. We scanned the originals and placed them into pages adding bleed and adjusting images wherever necessary. We added page numbers and text over the images in a font selected to complement Calli’s art without overpowering it. We will produce final books for Crowning Purpose to sell and place in appropriate facilities. We will also sell the books in our store and online, at

Calli Brielle McIntyre advocates for children suffering from food allergies and victims of bullying. Through her personal experiences of being bullied because of her food allergies, Calli created her personal platform in 2009 to bring awareness to the growing number of children with food allergies. About one third of children with food allergies report that they have been bullied specifically because of their allergies. Calli has hosted several Be a PAL: Protect A Life events to educate students and teachers on how to recognize anaphylaxis and how to keep peers safe. In 2014 she hosted her first Teal Pumpkin Project to provide allergy safe treats at Halloween. Calli was featured in a FARE publication (formerly FAAN) because of her advocacy work. During Calli’s reign as Miss NC Junior High school, she traveled and promoted B.R.A.V.E (Building Respect and Values For Everyone), the official platform of the Miss High School America Organization.  She has reached over two thousand preschool and elementary students with empowering steps to put an end to bullying. Calli believes that the earlier you equip children with the proper tools to defeat a bully, the more successful they will be in their teen years. Copies of The Anteater That Couldn’t Eat Ants will be donated to school libraries through Crowning Purpose, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, that Calli founded in 2015.  Proceeds from her book sales will go to food allergy research and anti-bullying education. Calli is currently working with her local state representatives to get North Carolina House Bill 520 passed that would require restaurants in North Carolina to complete training on food allergies.

headerNOTE: The next BookFest will be June 27 in Downtown Sparta. Plan to come and meet regional authors in participating stores that Saturday. BookFest is a great way to shop for books and visit with authors in a relaxed atmosphere. If you’re considering a publishing project, contact ISI for information.

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ISI Receives Awards at 72nd Annual Meeting of NC Society of Historians

The 72nd Annual Awards Ceremony of the North Carolina Society of Historians was held in Mooresville, Saturday, the 19th of October.

Out of 642 entries, 564 were declared eligible for judging and, of those, just 83 were declared winners. Eight of those (almost 10%) came home to Alleghany County!

From Imaging Specialists and Star Route Books, Four Brothers in Gray, the story of the Proffit family of Wilkes County, North Carolina, and their struggles in the Civil War.

Imaging Specialists won a Paul Green Multimedia Award  for our Trip to the Museum series, which we prepared for Alleghany Community Television. We also won a Joe McLaurin Newsletter Award for the AHGS Newsletter we publish and a Willie Parker Peace History Book Award for our book, Four Brothers in Gray.

The Historical Society‘s series, Alleghany Memories, won another Paul Green Award and for four episodes that featured members of the Walter Frank Osborne, Jr. Deatachment 1298 Marine Corps League, they won another.

The Tale of Clyde from Stratford Oaks Tales, 2013 NCSH Award Winner.

Dr. Suzanne Mellow-Irwin won a Clark Cox Historical Fiction Award for her book, Stratford Oaks Tales, The Tale of Clyde and Zach Hamm won for his illustrations. Imaging Specialists publishes the Stratford Oaks series.

Hannah Tucker also won a Joe McLaurin Newsletter Award for The Southern Tribune, a newsletter she produces for General JEB Stuart SCV Camp #1598

ISI also nominated others in surrounding counties. Writer, film director, and photographer Kelley St. Germain won for his Visions of Ashe: Mooshine documentary. It was developed for Skybest Television. The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, partnering with the NC Arts Council, published the Blue Ridge Music Trails Guidebook, which won a Paul Green Multimedia Award. The Madison County Arts Council DVD, Four Master Fiddlers, also won. This program has also been broadcast on ACTV.

We couldn’t be more proud to have been associated with these projects!

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William Harrison Proffit’s Letter Home From 1863

We’ve recently published a reprint of the Mary Alice Hancock book, Four Brothers in Gray. Ms. Hancock wrote her intriguing narrative of the Civil War using excerpts from the Proffit Family letters, now in the Southern Historical Collection of the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Working with Wilkes Community College, who holds copyright to Ms. Hancock’s work, Imaging Specialists has added complete transcripts of over a hundred letters written by the boys and their “connection” (or extended family) home to Lewis Fork in Wilkes County.

Below is an excellent example of one of the letters written by William Harrison Proffit who volunteered to serve in the Army of Northern Virginia just a week after North Carolina seceded from the Union. Harrison Proffit was a school teacher and arguably the most eloquent of the four boys in describing his opinions of the war and his personal observations.

The correspondences, written throughout the conflict, from 1860 t0 1865, report the changing mood of the boys, from their initial optimism, the struggles of the war and the gloom of their inevitable fates.


Camp of the 1st N.C. Troops,
Near Port Royal, Va.,
Monday Morning, February 23d. 1863

Dear Father:

I write you another short letter to let you know that I am enjoying good health and getting along very well. Our Regiment has just performed another hard task of picket duty. We started from camp on Saturday evening and returned yesterday evening. On Saturday night and Sunday morning, we encountered the worst snow storm that has fallen this winter. Our Co. was stationed at a house near the bank of the River, therefore we fared tolerably well. The snow was about 12 inches deep.

We have comfortable quarters and are well supplied with clothing, blankets, &c. Our rations have been considerably reduced- we draw only half as much bacon as we did in the first part of the winter, but our wages have been raised $5.00 more per month, which make privates pay $16.00 per month. I have very little war news to write you at present. All operations on land are necessarily suspended on account of the inclemency of the weather.

I believe no attack is now expected in the vicinity of Fredericksburg; some think that most of the Yankees are leaving here. I should not be surprised if it were true. I suppose that Charleston, Savannah and Mobile, will be attacked bery soon. It is also very probable that another attack will be made on Vicksburg. I think if ithey are unsuccessful in these attempts, that active operations will cease, and our independence soon after acknowledged, but if the enemy should be successful, I have no doubt that it would tend grately to the prolongation of the war. Grate disaffection exists in the North Western States, and a North Western Confederacy is strongly spoken of. It is said that Gen’l Longstreet’s Corps of this army is going South. I think part of it has already gone. We belong to Jackson’s corps, therefore it is probable we will remain in Virginia.

I have not seen the other boys since I wrote you before, but heard from Andrew and Alfred a few days ago, they were well. I hope you received the letter I wrote you some time ago. I directed it to Lewis Fork P.O. Would it be more convenient for you to get letters from Lewis Fork? Write me as often as you conveniently can. Fearing that your letters are not backed correctly, I will send you an envelope properly directed.

My love to Mother and Sis, with all who may enquire for one.

Yours, as ever,
Wlm. H. Proffit

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High Res Engraving of General Winfield Scott From Harper’s

We were recently lucky enough to purchase an original, unbound set of Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War by Alfred H. Guernsey and Henry M. Alden published by Star Publishing Co. in Chicago in 1866.

The books are filled with engravings of wartime photography and drawings that were made, mostly, while the war still raged. Much like today’s news, the articles were written during the conflict, so information was sometimes incorrect and wrong results may have been reported by those who were too close to the war.

Winfield Scott, scanned from a original 1866 copy of the set, Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War by Imaging Specialists.

While this immediacy might lead a reporter to draw the wrong conclusions, it is the very thing to make the photographer or the artist draw the correct ones- the closer the graphic artist is to the conflict, the clearer he can depict it and we can see it. People dedicated to the graphic arts have left us a very good lens with which to look back in time, insulated as we are from the conflict by time and the well-meaning commentary of generations of historians.

The images we are left with allow us to see, for ourselves, into the eyes of our ancestors, more clearly than any previous process and certainly further back in time than any others have been able to see. With the invention of photography, we are the first in history to see the clear face of someone born 200 years before us.

Consider the skill, the care and the time invested in these images, that have lasted a century and a half and were amazingly close to the subjects depicted.

But, as we sometimes like to think in terms of degrees of separation, consider: The engravings in these books were printed on paper (1) from from a craftsman’s engraved plates (2) that were made from a photographic print  (3) made from a glass negative (4) that recorded light bounced off a subject and through a lens. Or they were made from a drawing by an artist, presumably on site (3).

Mathew Brady’s photo of Winfield Scott was copied often by different artists. That the original is out of focus, probably accounts for minor differences in facial expression in each version.  So, even among skilled artists, there are variations.

William Hennessy’s work for the Harper’s image, above, makes the General look a little more grizzled and rough than the photograph he worked from (below). Other artists depict a softer expression.

Winfield Scott by Mathew Brady. Original at the United States Library of Congress.

Even photography isn’t immune to the artist’s sympathies. Contrast, levels, curves, sharpening, cropping etc. are all adjustable  and adjusted by everyone along the workflow from original to final printed piece or digital image, whatever the media.

Even if we ignore the idea of bias, two different shops can produce very different results. An internet search of any well known image will prove  that even in the IT age, opinions, agendas, sympathies and levels of ability affect results.

These books are perfect for our use since they came to us as they were originally sold- as unbound signatures, so we can easily scan them. (Original customers could have the 32-page signatures casebound after they collected the entire set.) The quality of the printing is excellent and they are folio sized at approximately 11.375″ x 16.375″.

Want a better look at the engraving of “Old Fuss and Feathers”? We’ve uploaded a much larger version of our scan to our server, here. (81MB jpg)

Creative Commons License
We’re happy to share this scan with a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License – you can use it in any project for any purpose. Please include attribution of “Scan courtesy Imaging Specialists, Inc., Sparta, NC.”

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VFW Museum: Full Steam Ahead

Hand painted mural in the entryway of the VFW Museum in Sparta, North Carolina.

The Bruce Wayne Osborne Post 7034 Veterans of Foreign Wars  has been hard at work, for the last several months, on a military history museum. And they’ve enlisted the help of Imaging Specialists to finish the main entryway. Sparta businesswoman and Gulf War veteran, Kathy Murphy, has created a beautiful  mural above the stairs to the Museum located in the lower level of the VFW’s building located at 1193 US21 (Main Street, just out of town) in Sparta.

We were able to help by laying out, cutting and installing removable vinyl lettering beneath the mural. The text is taken from the St. Crispen’s Day speech in Shakespeare’s Henry V and fits into the patriotic theme of the museum.

Thank you Kathy for your hours of work and to all you folks for your years of service on our behalf.

And that’s just the entrance. The group has pitched in to assemble a first rate collection of militaria divided into the four main branches of service, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. The collection seems to grow daily and includes videos and literature for research.

If you’ve not yet been to the museum, plan a trip. Imaging Specialists is proud to have played a small part in this project to honor our veterans.