This is rather a lot to get to in one post so let me address the more immediate concerns first.
Japanese Maples are temperate trees so yes it will go dormant and lose its leaves. If you wait a little longer the leaves will fall on their own so I don't bother picking them off. I do remove them from the pot once they fall though.
Brent Walston suggests that 2000 hours is a sufficient length of time to complete the dormancy requirements of most species. I wonder though why this is relevant. Will you not allow it the full winter dormancy? This should be your main focus right now. In your area, an unheated garage would be safer than leaving it outside all winter. I allow everything to stay outside to experience the early frosts only moving them to their winter spots later as winter sets in.
That should buy you some time to begin your research. Start [url=https://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/AcerPalmatum.html]here.[/url]
Peter Adams has a good book that deal specifically with Maples, Japanese Maples and Tridents, and it is definitely worth looking into. Perhaps your local library has a copy or they can borrow it from one of their affiliated branches. The full title is 'Bonsai with Japanese Maples'