First time novelist writes thriller lying on his back, one-finger typing on iPhone

By Patti Shaffer

Imagine you had major surgery and put your life on hold for months to recover, not knowing if you would be able to work again. It happened to Smithfield native Brett Cimino and it changed his life in many positive ways.

Cimino was a plumber and owned his own business for 15 years. Nearly four years ago, however, the heavy lifting that included installation and removal of plumbing and boilers, took a toll on his body and he had to step away from his business and customers. At the age of 39, he had a choice: have major triple fusion neck surgery or lose the use of his right arm. He chose the surgery.

Laid up on his back with a collar around his neck for seven months after the surgery, unable to work, and for the first month even unable to eat, he was inspired to write his first novel. Because he was unable to look up or down or use a pen and paper in his hands, he pecked away on his Apple iPhone 4 in the “Notes app” using his right index finger. (His copyright lawyer nearly fell off his chair when he heard how he wrote it)! His book, a fictional crime mystery that takes place in Rhode Island, entitled Exhale with Intent, is now being sold on, Kindle Unlimited and at Barrington Book Store.

“It reads like a movie, says Cimino. “Something that you can’t put down.

The story is about a young police detective, Elliot Frantallo, who, with his partner, stumbles upon a gruesome murder on the South Side of Providence. His life changes immediately. The twisted investigation has Elliot working overtime and growing eyes in the back of his head. There are few clues for the detectives, but Elliot’s deep military roots and sharp intuition have him using his combat skills to chase down a brilliant Vietnam War veteran sniper. The plot thickens when Elliot gets a call that his fiancé has been shot. So he throws away the rulebook.

Cimino adds, “ The novel is also about loyalty, passion, day-to-day grit and a comic sense that is thrown into the mix.”

And that’s not all, one year after Cimino recovered from his surgery, he set up a studio in his home and began to create abstract paintings on wood—something he always loved to do but didn’t have the time—another turning point in his life. He describes his paintings as raw and powerful, as well as truthful statements and feelings about such emotions such as life, love, hope and death. His paintings are complex and an expression of what he sees, feels, hears and smells.

His paintings have been shown at the Greenville Public Library, and a gallery in Putnam, Connecticut. He is presently waiting for a show date at AS220 in Providence.

Cimino says, “For me, there is no discipline when it comes to my painting. I want to be out there in my studio. I need to be there. It makes me feel complete. It’s something tangible that I am proud of and can leave behind, my legacy.”

He adds, “I do this because I have something to say—I’m painting for me. My creative outlet used to be working with my hands, working as a plumber, remodeling bathrooms and building furniture. I also bought and sold real estate. I was always busy. But today, I’m hurt and physically can’t do the fixing and building, anymore, which encouraged me to do what I always wanted to do—which was being in the arts—just like my father who has been an artist for the last 60 years. In its my blood.”

“I also have had the advantage of having an amazing mom,” he says. “Her tenacity and strong will to push through and finish the job, has always helped me be successful.”

Today, Cimino focuses more on writing and painting.

“Due to the severity of pain and injuries I’ve dealt with my entire career,” says Cimino, “and because of the places I have worked, places most people would never walk into, I feel I have a lot to say when I am creating. I put my whole heart and soul in my work.”

Although Cimino was forced almost four years ago to make the decision to shut down his plumbing business after his surgery, the experience has made him stronger and smarter.

Today, he still maintains a few of his former customers and also works in a less physical job in sales at Smithfield Plumbing and Heating. He is also in the midst of writing a prequel to Exhale with Intent and continues to paint in his free time. He considers himself a student, learning everyday, creating in his spare time. Someday, he hopes to do it full time.

His book, Exhale with Intent, is self-published and can be bought on; Kindle Unlimited; and at Barrington Book Store in Cranston.

To view Cimino’s paintings called Art is Life, go to: