In The School Story by Andrew Clements, two school girls, Natalie and Zoe, achieve the ultimate success when Natalie's short story is accepted for publication by the publishing house where Natalie's mother is the editor. Natalie's mother has no idea that the story she is working on was written by her talented twelve-year-old daughter. Natalie has been interested in writing for as long as she can remember, and when she lets Zoe read her manuscript it is still not finished. Zoe encourages Natalie to finish it and to offer it for publication. The story itself starts fairly early in the new school year, although Natalie's idea to write the story came about four months before the narrator actually starts telling the story. The narrator gives some detail about Natalie's childhood and how she lost her father when she was only about four years old and how, having taught herself to write, she even made up poems. By the fourth grade she had her own corner at home dedicated to her writing. With help from Zoe and the kindly teacher Ms. Clayton, Natalie's book is accepted for publication and after acceptance, the hard work really starts as the story must be edited. The approximate timeline follows:
1. Natalie has the idea for the story.
2. Four months later, Zoe tells Natalie to finish her incredible story.
3. After working for two hours every week day and every Saturday and Sunday for a month, the book is ready.
4. The book is sent to the publisher and accepted after Hannah, Natalie's mom, reads through the manuscript over the weekend.
5. Not long after that an offer is accepted and a contract signed.
6. Natalie starts editing the book and letters are sent back and forth with her editor during the course of the next month, after which time Natalie receives two copies of her soon-to-be-published book. Her mother does not know that Cassandra Day, the author, is in fact Natalie.
7. A party takes place to celebrate and even the news crews are there. Hannah learns that her own daughter is the talented author Cassandra Day.
8. Two weeks later, Natalie is interviewed on TV and her book goes to No. 1 on the New York Times Children's Book Bestseller List.
9. Things change and Hannah's mother is promoted, and in the new school year, the girls start talking about royalties from the book and even the prospect of Natalie's next book.